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IFH 361: The New World of Distribution at the American Film Market with Jonathan Wolf

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Today on the show we have Jonathan Wolf, the managing director of the American Film Market or AFM as it’s known. The AFM has gone through many changes over the years. In recent years the world of film distribution has been turned upside down and AFM has been changing along with it. I have the honor to be moderating a panel on Micro-Budget Filmmaking at this year’s AFM. The times they are a-changing. I sit down to talking about Netflix, streaming, OTT, self-distribution, and how you can screen your film to hundreds of potential buyers at the AFM.

Jonathan Wolf is Executive Vice President of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA®) and Managing Director of the American Film Market® (AFM®). The Independent Film & Television Alliance is the global trade association of independent producers and distributors of motion picture and television programming. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization represents and provides significant entertainment industry services to 125 member companies from 20 countries.

Since his appointment in 1998, Mr. Wolf has guided the growth and repositioning of the American Film Market (AFM), the world’s largest film market. A pivotal destination for independent filmmakers and business people from all over the world, the AFM is a global marketplace where more than $1 billion in motion picture production and distribution deals are closed each year.

The eight-day Market hosts more than 8,000 industry professionals and screens more than 306feature films. Participants come from over 80 countries and include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world’s press, and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry.

If you want to sell your film then get ready to take some notes. Enjoy my conversation with Johnathan Wolf from the American Film Market.

Alex Ferrari 0:32
Now guys, today is r a f m episode our American film market episode and today's guest is the managing partner of the AFM. Jonathan wolf. Now Jonathan was on the show a few years ago, but things have changed a lot in the film distribution business, as you guys well know. So I wanted to bring Jonathan back on the show to talk more about the new world of distribution streaming services. Ott's the impact of AVOD and SVOD in distribution and how independent filmmakers can actually screen their films in front of hundreds of buyers at the AFM. So we go into a lot of things that we did not go over in our prior episode. So if you guys really want to get into what you can do at the AFM which by the way, guys, the AFM is a very powerful film market is a place where over a billion dollars of business is done. Every year of buying and selling movies in production, or finished product, it is still a very powerful force in the filmmaking distribution marketplace without question. And if you've never been, you should definitely go it's an education to go there just to see how movies are bought and sold and what people are looking for really testing the marketplace. It's a really, really great education. And speaking of education, you might have mentioned this on the show before but on Tuesday, November 12. I will be moderating a panel at the AFM. I'm very honored to have been invited. It is a big honor to be invited to speak on the stage at AFM. And I am humbled to say the least. It will be November 12. Tuesday at 2:30pm. The AFM also puts on an education conference. So there's tons of panels, tons of talks that go on throughout the market, which is really, really invaluable. If anything, it's worth it just to go for that alone. And of course, I will be doing some sort of meet up with all of the tribe, including filmmakers that have had dealings with the stribber, we're going to sit down we're going to talk we're going to share ideas and notes and see how we can continue to help that situation out. But we'll also just be well I'll be walking around. So if you're there, reach out to me, you can email me at [email protected] And I'll see when we can get together I'll be there most weekdays not every weekday, but most weekdays so it's going to be pretty amazing. But without any further ado, let's get to today's guest, Jonathan Wolf from the American Film market. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion Jonathan Wolf, how you doing, sir?

Jonathan Wolf 4:53
Great. Glad to be here.

Alex Ferrari 4:54
Thank you so much for coming back on the show to talk all things AFM. So before we get Started I know a lot of people might not even know what the AFM is they haven't heard your, your all the other interviews. So can you just explain to everybody what the AFM is, in general,

Jonathan Wolf 5:08
AFM is a film market. It's primarily where production and distribution companies license their films to territorial buyers from around the world where they find the access to the marketplace. And it's also where producers and writers and those with packages come to this marketplace to find production companies interested in participating in that film. It's it's a mecca of business.

Alex Ferrari 5:35
Yeah. And that's, that's a real big point here business, as opposed to, you know, as opposed to film festivals and things like that what I wanted to ask you, you've, you've come out publicly and said that, you know, filmmakers really shouldn't submit to film festivals if they're trying to sell their movie, why shouldn't filmmakers submit to film festivals if they're trying to actually make money with their film?

Jonathan Wolf 5:57
Well, I think back up for a minute, we talked first about the difference between the market and festival. Okay, and I think once we talked earlier, once festivals are cultural events for their community, the festival director is sort of like a museum curator, bringing works of art to the community for a short period of time that the community wouldn't otherwise get to see film markets or trade shows. This is where film is bought and sold and licensed and financed and and eventually gets into the marketplace. And what happens when you bring a film into a film festival. that's never been seen before. You risk one reviews, the decision of when a film should be reviewed is something that's strategic, it's made by the those involved in marketing. And sometimes it's the review is from a curated audience, if you have a horror film, you want to make sure that you don't have an audience of over 70 at the Palm Springs Film Festival, watching it at eight o'clock or 10 o'clock in the morning, before they've had their first Mimosa. You're not going to get a good review. So you not only decide who win, but you also decide who's going to be in the audience. When you when you put a film at a festival, you lose control, you don't decide when it plays, as I said before, you don't decide who's in the audience. And then let's say in a festival, you you get an award some notoriety, Best Actor best something and you're at a regional Film Festival. And then you start to use that buzz for promotion. The word buzz is something that we all know about. But we don't understand it so much in the wholesale side of the world. And the retail side, when there's buzz on a film, that buzz is built to a crescendo by a skilled marketing team, the times that peak of buzz right to end the film is going to be released on the business to business side. Buzz also burns out over a period of time. So you have to decide when it's going to peak. If you're going to get peak buzz from being in a festival, you better be ready the day after the screening to capitalize on that. And what happens is someone screens a film at a festival, there are no buyers, there's there. They're no production companies there to acquire the film and the audio in the audience. And a few months later, they start knocking on doors. They're going to companies looking for distribution. And they said hey, we got a lot of bugs we got a lot of feedback on this film was all positive won an award. And the person who sees the film doesn't know why three months after the buzz there is still being pitched where others in the audience and turn it down Are they the last person that's ever seeing the film to to get a film sold, you want to create an auction environment, you want to create urgency. And this is usually done at a market. Now there are a few festivals where business is done. There's some business done at Sundance, they'll more the deals there are closed before the festival than after we've talked about that later. But some deals in Toronto for us theatrical distribution, and a couple others here and there. But for the most part, it's not where businesses die. When you go to a film market. And you say here is a film that has never been seen at a festival before we are premiering at the market. You got a full audience of buyers and when I say a full audience, if you have 50 buyers in in a screening at the AFM, you've got a huge audience. Our average audience is 26 or 27. Here at a festival have 50 people you'd be crying. But this is the difference between a market and a festival. It's all about the business. It's all about the licensing of film, and ultimately getting as much dough for the producer as possible.

Alex Ferrari 9:24
Yeah, this I really rail against this whole lottery ticket mentality that so many filmmakers have where their distribution plan is to submit to Sundance and and hope that they win the lottery. And you as well as I know, you know winning Sundance does help but doesn't guarantee doesn't guarantee sales doesn't guarantee the number that they're looking for and so on. But it does look it does help getting into Sundance, obviously is a nice little thing. But that's such a rare lottery ticket thing where this is much more business oriented. This is more strategic and the way you approach filmmaking as you kind of should depending on You know what kind of film it is now and I've been to AFM multiple times now, you know, there are certain kinds of films that are sold that AFM rather than you know, if the arthouse film sold there is that black and white, French New Wave film that was shot on our DSLR

Jonathan Wolf 10:14
Absolutely. And it Okay, are those films are sold, mostly a lot of them come out of France, okay. You know, they call the American Film market, but there's still films from about 30 or 40 countries, their screen and sold at the market. And there seems to be more art films as we would describe them coming out of Europe than there are the US partially because they get funding. See, when we look at how an independent film is funded, there's equity if you're lucky, there's soft money if you're lucky, meaning tax tax, rebates and, and supports like that. There's pre sales, meaning you've sold the film before it's made and gone to a bank and borrowed against it. And there's different pieces you put you put together like this. There's also some government fundings and grants. And in Europe, there's more access to grants to the public funding. And this allows more creativity, frankly, and more risk taking on behalf of on, you know, the director. In the US, when you say we have no money, we have to rely on the presale market, we've got to sell that film before it's made. You've got to work within certain narrow genres, where the buyer isn't worried about the risk of execution, whether it's horror, whether it's erotic thriller, action adventure, if you come up and say I have a coming of age story of an American teenager, and I want you to buy the film before it's made. Most buyers will say there's just too much risk in the execution. But the similar kind of story could be made in France, or Germany or Spain, where there are public supports for that. And so, you know, the art house world is alive from a, from a funding standpoint, they're still having trouble, in some ways reaching the theatrical audience, and we just don't seem to see enough of those films in theaters. Now, you

Alex Ferrari 12:04
kind of hint in regards to some films at Sundance are sold before the festival even ever happens. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I think I know what you mean. But I don't know that the audience does.

Jonathan Wolf 12:15
Well, here, the lottery ticket is actually being accepted to Sundance, because every distributor wants to see every film that's going into Sundance before Sundance, when you hear about a deal being done at Sundance, I promise you with all the lawyers involved in the complexities of cutting deals, they didn't do it at two o'clock in the morning, they celebrated a deal that was already done. After the screening, they went to dinner and said we have a deal. Not so what happens is the distribution companies frantically want to know what films are in Sundance and the producers along with their PR team or wherever it's assisting them. As soon as they get that Sundance submission, acceptance. They've contacted every distributor, they know this is going to be in Sundance, do you want to see it? Nobody says no to that kind of screening. And it's pretty easy set up a couple screenings in a mid morning, you know, in LA and and everybody's seen it. So those deals are cut way in advance. Now, some may wait to the end we were going to paper but we want to see the audience reaction but really for the most part, those are gone. And the end that kind of myth was kind of started in the early 90s. In the the Miramax we won't use his name, but then the Miramax days, where you know, Steven Soderbergh literally showed in 89, sex lies and videotape and deals were made by you know, at a coffee table at in Park City. And that's the thing where the myths came from. Correct. You know, and I don't know in any specific film, whether the deal was after the screening or the deal was three weeks before, but that kind of excitement about, you know, the champagne flowing at five o'clock in the morning, and everybody thrilled and it's like the white pearly staircase came down from the clouds. It's great. But then when we look at film markets, like the AFM and same thing of canon Berlin, we have dozens and dozens of producers with with packages ready to go part of the financing. They need to sell certain countries to to rap out to get the rest of the dough to make the film. And they don't know if they have a green light coming into the FMX. And they have one coming out. And they're down at the bar at the end of the market celebrating not that they got into a festival, but they lock their funding. And there are dozens of films that come into the AFM without funding completed that walk out with it. And so each of these events is different festivals very different from markets. And I'm just sort of highlighting one of those differences.

Alex Ferrari 14:41
Now, can you explain to people how films are actually sold at the AFM? Like what is the process for people who are unfamiliar with the process as best you can?

Jonathan Wolf 14:49
Yeah, it's about as complicated as writing a screenplay. There really if we can break it into two pieces, there are films that haven't started shooting what I mentioned before is because Pre sales, where the sales company, along with the producer have got a viable enough package that they're ready to present it to buyers from around the world. Now primarily the top 10 or 12 companies, countries, the largest UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Korea, they're ready to present it. Now. When they're ready to present, it means they've got a director, they've got the cast. Clearly the screenplay is done, because the finished screenplay becomes part of the contract that you're guaranteeing delivery of that screenplay with only minor minor adjustments. And there may be other attributes to the package, possibly some funding, it's very difficult today to get 100% of your funding from pre sales. But they've got enough of the package, that they're ready to bring it to the market to pre sell. And they're pre selling for a variety of reasons, sometimes, because they need the financing. Sometimes, because the investors want marketplace pre acceptance. If they take it to the market, and everybody goes thumbs down, the equity investor may say it didn't work, let's all walk away and cut our losses. So I want to see a certain number of countries sold to not only mitigate risk, but also to know that the marketplace actually wants that particular film. And so that's one set of deals that happen. Then the other side is on finished films, where they were able to make the film before selling it, or maybe they only sold a handful of countries to wrap up the financing. And then they're bringing the finished film to the market to show it to the territorial buyers. And and so it's it's constant pitching, it's constant selling those sales agents. I may have said this to you once before one of our discussions, those sales companies are the best pitchers in the world. If you can imagine every 20 minutes you have a new meeting to pitch one of three or four or five films you're representing to someone who hasn't seen the film and it's possibly hasn't even been made. And that's where you make your living is pitching unmade films. And when we hear about a producer, who hopes every two or three years to pitch a film and get it made, and then we talked about the sales agent that's pitching three or four films at a time, nonstop every day, and that's what they do. They are the best in the world.

Alex Ferrari 17:15
And when I remember so vividly of my first time at AFM, I'll never forget this movie. I've not seen it, but I never forgot it because it was so perfect. Was Steven Seagal versus mike tyson? And it was just, it was just a big poster of it. And I'm not even sure if the movie was finished yet. It might have been a pre sale situation, I don't know. But I saw that I was like, this is this is amazing.

Jonathan Wolf 17:40
The first time I went to Cannes and sorry, this dates me a little bit. But very early in my career, I saw a big sign on the Carlton terrace. And all it was was two characters, a T and a two. It just was T two 919 90 or 91 and 91. Yes, I'm like that. And that's all it was. And and Carol Coe was pre selling Terminator two. And that's all they did was just T two. And they sat under the sign and took orders. Sometimes that happens.

Alex Ferrari 18:14
Yeah, yeah. And now But that said, What is the health of pre sales nowadays because it isn't like the olden days, where you could walk in and you could arguably fund your almost your entire film with pre sales is pre sales as predominant as it is it was years ago,

Jonathan Wolf 18:30
I began with sort of a two part answer. Budgets are bifurcated budgets are either getting bigger or smaller. 10 years ago, you could have made a $3 million horror film gone straight to blu ray, and eventually gotten your dough out of it. Now if you make that film for more than a million, you're you're in trouble. On the flip side. I don't know if monster could be made today. That you really need to have bigger budgets and then bigger profile to get out there and reach a broad audience. So budgets are getting bigger and smaller. On the bigger budget side. presale is a very, very important component of getting the film made. Absolutely. In almost every case.

Alex Ferrari 19:10
When you say bigger budget, can you kind of give you a range,

Jonathan Wolf 19:12
I would say in English language 15 to 20 million and up. It starts when you're producing and I cannot English language is different because the business models from Argentina to France are very, very different in terms of both their cost structure and guaranteed distribution in country. But if we're talking about American or British films gets very difficult to produce between two or 3,000,010 to 12 million, do you because as soon as you cross a certain number, you've you've got to go out theatrically. Unless you're doing this, let's say as a project for Netflix, where they have pre bought the film and essentially to Netflix production. We can talk about the the the platform separately but if we look at the at the markets, it's not easy to Pre sell a $300,000 film, the buyer can look at that and simply say, there are lots of them coming forward. I'm not risking my company by waiting for the film to be done. When you're a theatrical distributor, and you come to the AFM and there's six or seven or 830 million dollar films for sale and you walk home with none, you might have empty slots in your distribution Schedule A year later. So you need certain films, and you need to take the risk of acquiring them early. When you look at a $300,000 film, you're it's almost exclusively for online platforms, you know, as, as a distributor, you'll have enough content, so you prefer not to risk or go through the hassle of the pre buy, you'll wait for the films to be done, see what they look like, and then buy what you want.

Alex Ferrari 20:47
So this year, I think you just said off air that we you starting a new kind of program allowing filmmakers to screen their films directly at the AFM. Is that correct?

Jonathan Wolf 20:58
Yes, you know, canon has done this for a while we've somewhat resisted partially because of limited screening time, partially because we didn't want to mislead the producer. The biggest mistake a producer can make is saying I'm going to come to the AFM screen my film, and then sell it myself to territorial buyers. It's like putting a sign from your house, it says for sale by owner, it's almost always a disaster. Producers don't know how to affect the full delivery, they don't know where the values are. sales agents truly do add value. And they don't quite get the urgency of you can't sell China this year. And then next year, sell Argentina, you've got to get the world sold very quickly. piracy and just global media awareness diminishes the value of film too quickly once it gets released. And so we were I was concerned that producers would come in and try and do this themselves. And what we've seen over the last five to 10 years is fortunately a greater sophistication and those who are making films and a greater understanding of where they fall in, in the in the in the food chain, if you will, it used to be a producer would come to me and say so let me understand this, all the buyers have offices, right, because they simply have a script and they look at any production companies a buyer. But of course the terms in our industry is a buyer is someone is a territorial distributor, coming to the FM to acquire packages. We see the producers more sophisticated now and and are slowly we've opened the gate if you will, to allow them to screen. But the purpose of their screening is to reach the sales companies is to screen later in the market. When the 300 or so sales companies their business activity slows down a little bit, they can send someone to a screening. Now sometimes it's for fun, frankly, it's cast and crew and they just want to be there. You know, half of the screenings in camp at the cannon market are just producers saying I screened in camp. And they don't mind spending $1,000 to see I've got a canned screening, the AFM doesn't have the same brand. Because when you say candy don't necessarily differentiate between market and festival. And you're talking anyways, the market and festival clearly know how to differentiate, but others may. So we've opened this up, I think we'll have 15 or 20 films, screening. And you know, we'll we'll sort of take the temperature of the producers afterwards to see how it how it worked for them to make sure they got the audience or the return on their screening investment that that they wanted. But we did open up a few years ago to a screening that they have ever expensive. They're about 15 $100 for a single screening at a time when between 20 and 28. Other films will be screening at the same time. We've got 29 Cinema auditoriums, we don't quite fill them all, every two hours, there's a lot of competition. And the work that the producer would have is getting people into that room who are valuable prospects for them. But what we've been doing for a number of years, four or five years is we have AFM on demand, which is an online platform for those who have come to the market to see film both before and after the market. And we've allowed producers to screen on demand for a number of years and more 60 or 70 took advantage of that, I think last year, that's only $400. And the advantage of that is it runs for about six months. You can define who sees your film, let's say you only want sales companies or something like that. And it's it's really a prank, frankly, a better value unless you've got a big expensive film. If you've got a $300,000 film, it's headed straight to a platform. You shouldn't spend, you know so much on a theatrical screen at DFM, you should put it on demand and tell the sales companies the week after the market, they can come see it and your work the market by just going around to the offices, letting everybody know it's there and following up afterwards encouraging them to go online. We just find it to be a better sales tool for most producers.

Alex Ferrari 24:55
Now I've read also somewhere that I think is on your website might be mistaken that filmmakers could kind of piggyback on other exhibitors, like you know, if you if I, if I call an exhibitor there and go, Hey, can I screen through your exhibition pass? That that is it that is a practice that is done if you feel like it, because what is the actual process to get your film screened? If you're if I'm gonna have a I have my I have a film. What do I do?

Jonathan Wolf 25:21
Well, if if, if it was last year or the years before, this is what some producers did, because only the sales companies, the exhibitors, the show could screen this year, because anybody with a badge to the market can screen their film, they actually don't matter the price, the cost is the same. They don't go through the exhibitors, and the exhibitor really doesn't want the hassle unless they're actually selling the film. And so they just simply go online, they get a credential and it says screen your film, you click here and just follow the instructions. And there's a process. And we don't make it difficult because we you know, we want people to do it if it's right for them.

Alex Ferrari 25:58
Okay. All right. Great. So then, so you would advise, I mean, is it a specific kind of genre you're looking at for those kinds of films? I mean, I mean, obviously, historically, and please correct me um, and you know, much better than I do, but action adventure, erotic thrillers, thrillers in general, and whore. And then a family films, like anything that has a dog saving Christmas will do very well. And family films, those are kind of the big giant pillars. And then there's, of course, faith based and other other genres as well.

Jonathan Wolf 26:28
Well, let me say that they were okay. The industry is moving quickly. If we had this conversation six or seven years ago, I'd say that that is the center of the market, then you have larger emila. More than half of the Academy Award winners for best picture in the last 40 years have been licensed or screened at the AFM. So the AFM is about everything from shark, NATO and Toxic Avenger, you know, to greenbook you know, it's just everything in between. But that middle tranche that you mentioned, really defined what worked in the presale marketplace in the middle budget, where the buyer who comes in is usually taking on a pre buy two risks. One did they guess, right for what their audience wants, like, like buying sweaters for for, you know, a department store? Did I pick the right color order too many. But the other risk they're taking is that the filmmakers will actually make the film they promised, Was it good? Was the acting right, the director do what they need to do. They're taking two risks. And as I mentioned before, there's more risk of execution on serious dramas or talky comedies, and less risk of execution in specific genres like action adventure and horror and thriller. And so producers who don't have a lot of equity, are having problems raising money elsewhere and needed to rely on the presale marketplace for most of their funding. We're forced just by the nature of the marketplace to stick with genres that they could pre sell. If they could pre sell Brokeback Mountain, if they could pre sell greenback, a Green Book, you know, we'd have a lot more of those kinds of films. But they're just too risky. The buyer wants to see the film first. So the genres you've mentioned, are have slowly slowly melting a bit or the budgets are getting so small that that that the presale isn't isn't a piece of that. Now, if you look at Expendables, I don't know what what, which one obvious on is Expendables 44, or something, but but this is clearly you just say it's Expendables, here's the cast, and I'll show you the script. When the film is done. And it's bought, you don't care about the execution, you know, it's got a wide berth, and they're going to execute within that. And within a level the audience will accept. Come up with a talky drama, it's different. And so there's still some of that, but the budgets have either gone up, or they've gone down. And have you seen, you know,

Alex Ferrari 29:05
I'm going to be doing a panel at the AFM about micro budget. And, you know, do you have you seen the, I mean, as you were saying, they either have gotten really much more expensive or have come down, down, down. And I work with independent filmmakers on a daily basis. And I've seen budgets from $3,000 for a full feature that gets sold to streaming services into when I meet the filmmaker. You can meet him right here. I made a movie. I made my first feature for $5,000. I had I had a beautiful cast of friends here in LA who were all big, it was a dramedy, and we got a licensing deal with Hulu as well as sold it self distributed as well. So it's doable, but yes, but so that you've seen those budgets, but then I see the budgets of three, four or 500,000 as well. So how have you seen the budgets really change? And what is that sweet spot for certain movies to actually have success at the AFM

Jonathan Wolf 30:00
I'm only going to give you a partial answer to this frontlines really no. Yeah, the fact is, first and foremost, if the film isn't going to resonate with its target audience, it doesn't matter how cheaply you made it. It's all about the audience.

Alex Ferrari 30:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jonathan Wolf 30:28
And, and if you're looking at the film business, with the emphasis on the word business, the first thing you do is is face your audience. You know, I mentioned before buying sweaters for a department store, if if Bloomingdale's the buyer just happens to like green, and puts a whole bunch of green sweaters on there, and nobody else likes it. It didn't work. Those that succeed are facing the audience understanding they want what they want. And, and I don't know specifically, which genres which budgets, you know how things connect. And this is really where the filmmaker has much more skill than I do, where the sales company, and in keeping their ear to the ground and understanding where the values are. Just what the marketplace is, is responding to it. It's moving much more quickly now than it might have 10 or 15 years ago.

Alex Ferrari 31:19
Yeah, I mean, that's the thing. I always tell people as well as filmmakers, like what was what was true, like, last month, is no longer true today. I mean, we have and we're going to talk about streaming services and more. But now coming up in the new year, we've got four or five monster streaming services being brought out Disney plus and NBC Universal all these things. How is that going to change the marketplace? How is you know, it's everything is changing so rapidly. And I can imagine someone like you who's been working with the AFM. I mean, I remember the times where the if you know, where movies, you know, even just an industry was much slower, it took time for things to change. Now, it's, it's changing almost on a monthly standpoint, how, you know, how do you how have you seen the industry change? How is it affecting and how is it affecting the AFM?

Jonathan Wolf 32:03
Well, okay, well, we have about three or four hours for for this one. Of course, the streaming services are having are creating a tectonic shift in the industry. And everybody knows this, what I'm saying is a new, but maybe I can add some interesting perspective. They're doing a few things. First of all, this is a Renaissance period. For actors, for writers, for everybody who works in production from cinematographers to set designers. There, there are more hours of film both narrative and and not being made today than than ever before. Everybody is working, that makes it an exciting time. It's also somewhat of a bubble. Many of these streaming services are losing money, all of them are talking. I read today that that that Disney is going to be spending 15 million an episode on this show 10 million an episode on that show. In the days of network television, when there were only three networks, even at today's dollars, 2 million an episode would have been a lot to reach 30 million people a night. Now they're spending huge amounts of money. And and I'll talk for a minute about why that can actually work for them. But it's still a bit of a bubble, because they're all going to be losing money for a while. And eventually, some some common sense will come in either shareholder driven or marketplace, and production will pull back a bit. But in the meantime, it's creating a renaissance environment for everyone, except producers. And here's why. If you are a Motion Picture producer, and your goal is to build a library, and, you know, actors, writers, directors, they get residuals, their film plays forever, they've got a participation in that, you know, for a long period of time to cover the lean years or the lean months, producers don't. When you go to a platform, like Netflix, they write a check, they buy you out, you see nothing It has worked for hire for you beyond that. Now Netflix will say due to their credit, we're going to pay that producer more than the average film might earn not blockbuster, but not losing money, or, you know, as well, we're going to assume it does sort of Okay, and that's what we're they're gonna get paid. And it's gonna be better than most, but they have no back end. They have no participation. Now, they're just told Good luck, go find something else. We're not providing development funding. We're not you know, paying your rent for your home while you're trying to find the next next package, where a producer who can build a company through a library really has a way to help fund a future film. And the big question mark for me is where are those creators going to find those new exciting ideas? the creative process works best in small pockets. This is why even the studios when they're producing, you know 1012 pictures a year or one a month is about all you can do without creating another studio and another set of decisions. makers. It's why the music labels have offices all around the world, not because the music is different in Nashville versus Seattle, but you can only just put out, there's only so much creativity that can come out of one group. And what's happening now is they're slowly strangling those who fund and take the risk the entrepreneurs, it is the it is it is slowly driving the entrepreneurs to extinction. Because these are the people who take risks. And this is the part it's not gonna happen in the near term. A lot of those entrepreneurs are, are happy getting their fees from Netflix. But I know multiple people who've had series of Netflix, for example, and they've done the first year. And Netflix says the only way we go forward with a second year is if we own it, we're buying you out, you have no participation, or there's no second year. It's all about owning the copyright. We've seen that some of the I think Disney is slowly moving towards this not having to deal with a profit participation definition, but rewarding based on certain milestones. This is worrisome for the producer. And I'm not trying to wave a big red flag and maybe I'll be surprised in the marketplace, or the creative producers will find a different model that keeps them healthy. But that's what worries me.

Alex Ferrari 36:21
The the other things The interesting thing about Netflix because obviously Netflix was the the the catalyst of all this, they they're the first streaming service, they're the ones that really kind of changed. Basically the way business is done in Hollywood at this point. I always I always say that the difference between them and like someone like Disney plus, is that Disney plus, or Disney is a very diversified company. Netflix is not their entire multiple, the only revenue stream that they have the blue jority of it other than a few t shirts for Stranger Things that they might sell is subscriptions. So Disney can take that hit and can lose money on Disney plus for years. Because they have so many other ancillary product lines and things and they'll make more money on the T shirts off of those shows that $50 million an episode show than they will off the show itself. So they have a different business model. I agree with you, I think there is a bubble I think what sooner or later, there's going to be one of these giants. That's just going to it's just gonna pop it's just gonna fall.

Jonathan Wolf 37:23
Well, let me let me add a perspective to this. First of all, Disney has said by 2020 they're going to lose about $4 billion in revenue that they would have otherwise collected had they not started Disney plus. So they they have to move quickly. And they have to scale quickly and they likely will. They've got the only brand. Disney is a brand Warner Brothers is not a brand. Nobody says I can't wait to go see a warner brothers film. Right Pixar film a Disney film, a Lucasfilm their management. Yes, Marvel did manage, they understand that brands actually sell just like paying Tom Cruise a big number to be on a film because because he sells he can drive tickets. Those brands sell the other brands you don't rush off to a paramount film. But there's something that Netflix understands that magazine publishers have understood for almost a century about the subscription model. And that is with the magazines. The average consumer would retain their subscription, if there were two sections in the publication that they wanted to get every week or every month, however, often came out, not for the whole book. But for two sections. If there are two parts of that that you want to see, usually the subscription was low enough that you would always retain it because you didn't want to do that. Netflix has followed that exact model, which is they want to have just enough of what you want, what I want and what every single person around the world wants to say yes, for my $10 a month, I don't want to move, Li Li lose that slice. Adam Sandler gets a port for a picture deal. And a lot of people in Hollywood roll their eyes and laugh. Netflix knows exactly what they're doing. There's an audience for everything and their goal. They're not going to buy every dock. But they're going to buy enough dock that if docks are important to you, you will never give up your Netflix subscription. And so it doesn't matter that Netflix doesn't have the Disney brand because they are doing something different. Disney is saying here's ESPN, here's Lucas, here's here's Marvel, here's our various pieces of content. And we think that most of the public wants at least one of them. Netflix is much broader, in the sense of Disney pluses and going out with 100 docks every year. Netflix would be and so they're taking the big book 300 page magazine, publishers approach which is we're gonna have just enough of everything. Now. They also know That, and that it's what's new that keeps people engaged as well. Very few of their series go more than two years, partially partially because the costs go up. Partially because they know they don't lose subscribers when they cancel series, one day at a time, you know,

Alex Ferrari 40:20
Great show, I love that show.

Jonathan Wolf 40:22
Outcry, oh, great didn't matter two years, they're done. You know, they'll go on and on. But if they have the next new thing, it gives them something to market to drive new subscriptions, their churn rate is low. And it's gonna be interesting when we want, you know, a company owned by at&t, that used to in its cell phones, used to have like a one and a half percent churn per per month, an 18 to 20% churn per year. If you had that at HBO, if you had that at Netflix, they'd be doomed. And so it's going to be interesting to see how those those cultures work with each other. But I wouldn't sell Netflix short. Now, I don't mean, you should go buy the stock, because I have no clue where values are on something like that. But those who say Netflix are is losing all of its content, and nobody will want them anymore. They're missing the subscription model. And really what is at the core of it that Netflix does understand.

Alex Ferrari 41:17
Now, I mean, obviously I remember last year when I was walking the halls, all I kept hearing was this this term Ott Ott, Ott, Ott streaming, it's everywhere. It is just it's just rampid. It's like a virus that has infiltrated the AFM. Everyone's talking about it. But yet a lot of people aren't figuring out like you were saying, how to make money with it. Because DVDs was like you, like you said you made a $3 million horror movie, you threw it up on DVD and blu ray, you made your money back, it was just the market. Streaming is not like that the profit margins aren't as as big there had.

Jonathan Wolf 41:52
And there isn't the cost. Sorry, go ahead. No, no, there isn't the competition. So if you were selling a blu ray, and you were going, looking at I was an action adventure, and you were looking at Japan, there might be six 810 15 distributors, who you could show it to what's happened. And this is what I think a lot of the creative industry misses is the growth of the platforms has really been about consolidation, and consolidation of channels to the consumer and consolidation of potential buyers. Now, who do you go to when when the blu ray player, blu ray excusing, buyers have gone and you look at a streaming platform, and a number one streaming platform is Netflix and there are two others and that's it. In a country, suddenly, you don't have the the ability to create an auction for your film, suddenly three companies are interested, you're just out of luck. Now maybe you go to an A VOD platform, hope you can, you know, get a little bit of dough as their ads playing against against your film. But the scary part for the independent filmmaker is the consolidation that's happening. And while people would look at the AFM 10 years ago, 15 years ago and say, Who are all these people, they're the frankly the ones that were funding the 1000s of independent films that were made, because they were they knew how to find their audience and what I'm hoping for, and we're doing a session at the AFM called the rise of a VOD, what we're hoping for is that they're actually become what I'll loosely call independent platforms. When we push aside Netflix and Disney and peacock and some of the others who is out there saying we don't need 50 million subscribers, we need 5 million. And we're going to pick up the films that others don't want. And we have a marketplace. And I think ultimately, what we'll start to see is a slow growth of independent platforms. And what I'm most hoping for is that some technology provider, maybe it's Apple, maybe it's someone else comes up with the over the top app, which allows you to say, Here are my subscription subscriptions that I have got Disney plus I have Netflix, whatever it is, and it organizes everything for you in one place. The consumer needs simplicity, we have so many examples of that. You know, we we all listen to music digitally. But a CD has much better quality. We'd all prefer to stream films. But a blu ray has much better quality. We actually prefer convenience, and we're willing to give up some things for that to be answered. It's somewhere there needs to be that that app on your on your television that allows you to access everything you have rights to in one one spot. The reason I mentioned this is then that small app that small distributor has a place there can that can be found along with everything else.

Alex Ferrari 44:54
It was just funny you say that the small niche kind of over the top streaming series services are going to start popping up. I myself have a streaming service that's dedicated to filmmakers and screenwriters, and it shows movies about screenwriting and filmmaking, it shows you no other kind of content that's aimed at that demographic. And it's a full blown streaming, you know, Apple TV, everything. And I keep saying the same thing is like, you know, one of the main core things I teach is to filmmakers is to understand your audience and to niche down not to go broad, they can't compete with a studio budget, they can't compete with 20, you know, $20 million in PNA. But they can make I always say, make the vegan chef movie, you know, make that movie that is a romantic comedy about a vegan chef who meets a meat eater at a barbecue competition. And you make that movie for $150,000. You know, you put a couple stars in it or your company, but you can sell that that movie to that niche audience, would you agree that not only is it the niching down of your projects, a beneficial thing at selling at the AFM, but also for these companies in these streaming services like cozy flexes, for example, or what's that there's a faith based one as well, something else flicks, you know that they're, they're literally like, I don't need to go after everybody. I'm just gonna go after my niche audience.

Jonathan Wolf 46:11
And that's important. If you compare it to the real estate industry, some people big build big mansions in Beverly Hills, and some build, you know, apartments and one bedroom condos. And but they when they start production, they start building, they understand the marketplace, they know how to reach the marketplace, before they start. Too often we find with the creative producer, they make what's in their head, and then afterwards say now what do I do with it?

Alex Ferrari 46:37
You mean most of you mean most filmmakers, basically what you're saying.

Jonathan Wolf 46:41
And this is one of the things that differentiates the studios, the studios are distribution companies, they only produce so they can have something to distribute, sort of like the oil companies, they're all refiners if you said to Exxon Mobil that that will give you a steady supply of crude from now till eternity, you don't have to explore, they'd be cheering great, we're just going to keep filling our refineries. The only reason they do that is so they can continue to refine and retail. If you said to Disney, we're just gonna feed you, you know, a Star Wars every month forever, they'd shut down production, because it's all about, it's all about the distribution. And so, the independent and I'm exaggerating, of course, but but the end of the independent producer frequently is focused on the production side here, there are two kinds for me. And there two kinds of companies, some companies, there are distributors there, excuse me, there are companies that produce so they can continue to distribute, and their companies that distribute so they can continue to produce. And those that distribute only so that they can continue to produce are usually following the the the owner the principal's vision of production, and in very few cases, do they succeed long term. Most production companies just don't have a long lifespan like the studios. And it's not because they aren't big. It's because our ultimate mission was still to produce.

Alex Ferrari 48:04
Now, do you have any tips on how to work the AFM for a filmmaker? If you if you're trying to either do a pre sale or sell a project? What do you have to walk in? How do you walk in or if you have a finished film what you should do as far as just literally working to work in the AFM.

Jonathan Wolf 48:20
The first thing to do is to start ahead the worst experiences are someone to pick up the credential, walk in the door and say, Okay, now what do I do? There is no follow the dots there is no roadmap. It isn't curated for you. This is a jungle. And so you have to be prepared for it. You have to understand what your mission is. And there are a few I even start at the producer or writer who doesn't have a script has nothing. Their reason for walking the market. And I'm not suggesting that all should do this. But I've met many who have. The reason for walking the market is to know what's working in the marketplace. To be able to go door to door, you can walk in the office of Lionsgate then you walk in the office of every single company that's there, the door is open, they may or may not have time for you at that moment. But you can absolutely see what's coming. You can see what budgets they were working. And it's so refreshing when someone walks into one of these companies, instead of pitching turns around and says, What are you working on? What budget cut ranges you in? What language what genre? What works? What after, you know, just asking questions, it's a wealth of information. These companies all face the marketplace. The first and foremost is to make sure that any minute you have to have me spent learning and frequently going door to door and understanding what companies do. Because they're you know, ultimately you want to make a film that sells not a film that you show to family and friends, and then pull it out once a year to show it again. And so then the next group I look at sort of the process is a producer that has a package. Writers with scripts have a challenge. They can find out who's interested in a weapon. Nobody's going to read a script in a market. So pitching a script at a market just going door to door and saying, buy my script, you know, doesn't work for a producer with that script, who has some elements to it may have some equity may have somebody attached, you know, may know where they're going to shoot with some soft money coming for they had even even just the embryo of a package beyond a script, they have an opportunity to create interest because the companies there are constantly looking for new films. And they have to do their homework in advance, though, you know, one of the things all salesmen know is that they want to qualify their prospect, the last thing we want to do is waste their time pitching somebody who isn't qualified. You know, you're pitching a French company, an English language film, and they only make French language films. you're pitching an art film to a company that only handles you know, certain genres. The key is to do the homework in advance and actually know who you want to meet with no lots of resources on our site. Every every sales company has a page on our companion website, the film catalog, which has their profile shows all the films they've handled, and shows where all their ex who all their executives are. So you know who to write to, to set up a meeting. And the other important thing that again, the professional salesman knows is the purpose of every contact, whether that contact is an email, a phone call, or a meeting, is to get to the next contact, just get to the next step and baby steps, the purpose of the email is maybe to get a phone call to pobres, the phone call is just to get a 10 minute meeting during a busy market, the purpose of the tenant meeting is then to get the follow up meeting or to have them read the script. It's all done on little steps. And and and those who trying to overreach usually just get the door shut because people don't have time for the commitment they're asking for. And so it's asking for very little, and being happy with that very little as you move to the next step. So those with packages or loose packages, planning ahead, contacting the companies trying to set up meetings, finding out who's head of acquisitions, those with finish films, the goal is to get the film seen. Now one way could be a screening of the market another way could be having it on FM online. In those cases, you know, we we frequently recommend that someone put together a three to five minute reel. And I say that it's not a consumer edited trailer. As a filmmaker, you're not telling the distributor how he or she should market to the consumer, you're not showing how you would sell the movie. It's taking, I don't know selected scenes, half a dozen scenes that would show the best of the film, you're already either sending a script in the know the story or the synopsis, you don't have to show beginning, middle and act. Here are five great scenes show the skill of the actor, the skill of the director, the production values, whatever shows the film in its best light, you put it on a password protected site, and you basically say, here's here's a synopsis, here's some selected scenes, please take a look for three minutes, click here, love to meet with you at the market. It's a finished film, suddenly finished film has less risk for the person you're pitching. Because you're not asking for dough. You're asking for their time. You're asking them simply to look at the film and see if it's a good fit for them. So the pitch is is is very, very different.

Alex Ferrari 53:19
And you wouldn't suggest a screenwriter walking in with a screenplay going Hey guys, I've got a movie. Can you fund me?

Jonathan Wolf 53:25
No. But there are more than 1000 producers at the AFM. Most of them actually aren't in offices. They're doing the things that we've just talked about. So if you're a writer, and just from a networking standpoint, in the restaurants, at the receptions in the hallways, wherever it is in the filmmakers lounge, just talking to people, what do you do? Well, I'm a producer, I, you know, mostly stick with horror. I'm a horror writer and I just finished three scripts, you know, that kind of connection, somebody that that doesn't have a big enough shingle that they would have known to pitch them or write to them and advanced finding partners. This is a collaborative art form. If you're if you played in the grunge world, you know, a decade half ago, you were in Seattle, you had to go there, you know if if you know you have to go if you're playing country music, you need to be in Nashville. If you're an independent film, and you want to connect and and find collaborators, you need to be at major events, whether it's here, it could be at Sundance, you know it could be at other events, but you have to get out and connect.

Alex Ferrari 54:36
And what any other final do's and don'ts that you would recommend for the AFM intercurrent because I know before you could, I know it's been slowly kind of being closed off before you could walk the pool. Now the coolest clothes off before you should be able to walk the lobby without a pass now that's closed up. So for people who are not aware what are the do's and don'ts now that you can recommend for people coming to the first time AFM

Jonathan Wolf 55:00
Well, those haven't been there that the big FM held is held in the low Santa Monica Beach Hotel. It's a 350 room hotel, we close the hotel for a week and a half. You can't walk in the hotels, you've said until after sundown, usually around 630. Now you can't walk in the hotel without a badge. But it's no different than going to any other market, whether it's the LA and Cannes or the Martin Gropius Valley in Berlin can't walk in the building without a badge we used to keep the lobby open. But as the markets grown, we've found people who paid dearly to travel from around the world, flown for 10 hours gone through the indignities of Li x. And then they're standing in the lobby, because you know, a handful of actors came over with a bottle of water and an Uber and are occupying all the couches. And it just my empathy was for the person who traveled a great expense who came to the market, we have a business mission, rather than locals who are already here in Hollywood, they're already here, they can already go knocking on the door, they can meet people everywhere. My my empathy was for those who traveled and so we just decided we needed to restrict access to the hotel to those who have a credential. And so if you're coming to the market, first and foremost, do your homework, you know, decide who it is when to meet with this is an appointment show half the connections are made by appointments. For those that are in the offices. Don't pitch somebody without qualifying them. My best example is we ever walked onto a car dealers a lot the salesman comes out, you know, under the lot and starts right out you have the perfect car for you. It's red, it's a four door. It's a it's a stick shift, it gets low mileage, it's absolutely the best car for you, without ever asking who you are, what you're interested in, when's your budget? When do you tend to buy? That's the difference between someone who doesn't pitch for a living and someone who does you qualify? your prospect is the most valuable thing you have at the FM is your time. Invariably, I hear from people who are really angry because they pitch someone for five minutes, then ask that person, what do you do? And I said, I'm the intern, I'm here for a week taking messages and booking meetings. And they felt it was the interns responsibility to interrupt their pitch, right and say you shouldn't be pitching me. the blame game. Your pit, you're a professional salesman, you know, sales is the highest paid profession in the world, more than more than lawyers and doctors. But it's it's business to business sales that most of us never experienced and definitely don't know how to do. And this is what selling film is. It's totally different than selling sweaters or Bloomingdale's. And but we think of it many people think of when they're pitching a film, I'm pitching it like a sweater. This fits on you. It looks great on you. Here's the big smile. Don't you want it? Yeah. The business the business salesperson is explaining to the buyer how they will make money on the film. Not how good the film is. I was once walking with a producer whose name I guess I won't say in case he gets pissed off. We're walking in Cannes, it was an hour years ago, I said, What are you working on now and he said I just another piece of shit was on GLAAD. You knew john Claude Van Damme. He didn't care who was going to make money. The the distributors, the production companies that what they're most interested in is how this is going to be a profitable experience for them. First and foremost, the film being good is secondary.

Alex Ferrari 58:23
It's it's business. It is it's about the business side of the business that you most filmmakers think about the show only. And never think about the business.

Jonathan Wolf 58:33
If I can use one analogy, if you're if you're a painter, you and your do this for a living professional, you visit art galleries, you find out what are people buying? What do they like? I could paint anything. But I'd rather paint something that people actually want to buy. If I don't, it's a hobby. And what you have to separate is, is this my hobby and my passion? Or is this what I'm doing for business? If I'm successful at it at a business standpoint, I'm going to have lots of time and resources for my hobby. But if I only pursue my hobby, ultimately I'm going to be having to find a different shade day job. And professional painters know this filmmakers need to follow the same the same path.

Alex Ferrari 59:18
Now where can people go to sign up for badge or any any information about the FMX?

Jonathan Wolf 59:23
Sure American film market.com it's easy enough to read the information is there. We have a page, how to work the AFM if you just Google, how to work, the AFM that that page will pop up it'll have a lot of the things that that I've just talked about.

Alex Ferrari 59:38
Very good. Jonathan, thank you so much for being on the show again and dropping knowledge by dropping knowledge bombs on our on our tribe today. So I appreciate it and I'll definitely see you and I'll definitely see you at the AFM.

Jonathan Wolf 59:49
Looking forward to it. Thanks for moderating that session. I'm looking forward to it.

Alex Ferrari 59:53
I want to thank Jonathan for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe today. If you haven't been to the AFM and You are in California or you can get here. It is worth your time going guys, it is an education, to say the least. If you want to get links to anything we talked about in this episode, including Jonathan's prior interview, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/361 for the show notes. And before we go guys, I want to ask everybody for a favor. If you have read shooting for the mob, and you enjoyed shooting for the mob, please take five minutes, three minutes out of your day, go to Amazon and leave a review for the book. It really really helps me out a lot It helps out with the ranking of the book getting more people to read that book. It really does help a lot so please head over to shootingforthemob.com and click on Amazon and you'll be able to go right there and leave a review so I truly appreciate it if you haven't read shooting for the mob oh my god what are you waiting for? It is an amazing book has 29 I think rating right now five star ratings already and it was already a Amazon best seller. You know guys don't hate the player hate the game. always gotta be hustling. You know it is. Thank you guys for listening. As always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. I hope to see you at the AFM and I'll speak to you soon.

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IFH 274: Distribution Myths, SVOD and AFM with Linda Nelson


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Today on the show we have returning champion Linda Nelson from Indie Rights. I wanted to bring Linda back to discuss how much the distribution game has changed in the three years since she was last on the show. We also discuss the American Film Market and how to work it properly.

Nelson Madison Films/Indie Rights was founded by Michael Madison and Linda Nelson because they believed that the future was bright for independent artists and that there was a better way to produce and distribute movies.  They have been in business since 2000, when they produced their first film, NSYNC BIGGER THAN LIVE a Giant Screen Movie that played to sold-out crowds worldwide.

Known for innovation.  SHIFTED, their first digital feature,  was the first movie on Amazon’s UnBox (the predecessor of Amazon Video)  and was used by Amazon to promote their platform for over five years.  DELIVERED was the first independent feature to edit and master a 4K movie using Adobe CS5.   Articles in Variety, HDVideoPro and an Adobe Success Story followed. Partnerships were forged early on with the leading digital platforms including Amazon, Google, Cinedigm, MGo and Adrise, and these partnerships ensure that Indie Rights can offer the very best audience opportunities for their own films, as well as the more than 300 other filmmakers they work with.

Linda Nelson began her career as an international investment banker, IT executive an entertainment real estate developer.  After meeting Michael Madison, she pivoted into the movie business finally realizing her artistic potential.   As an Executive Producer on NSYNC, she quickly realized that she was interested in being more “hands-on” and was the DP for her next film, SHIFTED.  As a Producer on DELIVERED, she was finally able to gain experience in all aspects of the financing, development, production and distribution phases of moviemaking.

I can’t recommend Indie Rights highly enough. If you have a feature film that needs distribution do yourself a favor and check them out.

Enjoy my eye-opening conversation with Linda Nelson.

Alex Ferrari 2:40
Today's guest is returning champion Linda Nelson from indie writes. Now Linda was on episode 17. And she is hasn't been here for a while but things have changed dramatically since last time. We spoke to her about distribution, and the world of VOD s VOD t VOD, a VOD, and you know physical media and all sorts of stuff. But we really get into it. This is a master class no joking about distribution. And if you really want to know the differences between traditional distributor verse is a self distribution model. Linda really breaks it down for you very, very well. I love indie writes, I've sent a ton of the tribe to her for distribution. Not every movie is perfect for self distribution. Some movies need or demand, a traditional distribution distribution partner or a hybrid of the two. And indie REITs is by far the top of my list, and I'll put her links all her links in the show notes. But without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Linda Nelson from indie REITs. I'd like to welcome returning champion, Linda Nelson. How are you, Linda?

Linda Nelson 4:00
Good morning. I'm so thrilled to be back talking to indie film hustle.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Yes, you were on episode number 15. If I remember correctly, so it's been a few. It's been a minute since you've been with us.

Linda Nelson 4:14
Yes. And and in distribution, that like a century

Alex Ferrari 4:18
In today's world, not in like the 70s and 80s it was pretty standard and didn't move very much. But in today's world, things are moving.

Linda Nelson 4:26
So I think for a good 30 years, you know, 20 to 30 years it was just all about DVD sales. And that was it and and now it's very much based in physical media and that has totally changed.

Alex Ferrari 4:38
So we'll get we'll definitely get into all of that good stuff. But so for those who don't remember, how did you get into the business and how did indie writes the company you work with outcome to be?

Linda Nelson 4:48
Well, my partner current partner Michael Madison, I made a had the opportunity to make a big budget film. It was a 5 million Dollar film was our first film. And we expected to get very wealthy off of that. And instead it wound up in a lawsuit. So he fell over the DVD sales. So

Alex Ferrari 5:12
In the biz, in Hollywood, I can't see that happening, people

Linda Nelson 5:19
And so we had to close our production office and start over again. And, and we did. So we decided that, you know, this time around, we're going to, you know, make our own films, and we made a very low budget feature. And we got into some film festivals and started to get a couple of offers, and we thought the offers were horrible. And we didn't, you know, see how you could, you know, be make a living in industry, if those were the only kind of deals that were out there. So, this was about 2007. And we decided that well, gee, how hard could it be to start a distribution company? I mean, little, little did we know, I mean, it was purely, you know, out of, you know, stupidity that we even, you know, if we knew more, we probably wouldn't even have tried it. But we, we said, Oh, you know, can't be that hard. So it is, it's so exactly true. And so we would often, and started a little company called indie rights. We started it, just with some other filmmakers that were on the festival circuit with us. We were at like dances with film. When we got five or six films gathered up, we figured Oh, well, you know, we've got enough to start a little company, and we've got a little catalog. And that's how we started. And now here we are, 10 years later. And we have 650 films in our catalog. That's nice, not bad. It's just grown exponentially, we really kind of doubled every year, we doubled. And when we we love that we don't have to go out and look for films. And that's the best part about what we do. Every all of our business is by word of mouth, and people that have been with us for a long time tell their friends and filmmakers, and that are filmmakers and they tell their friends and and then those filmmakers all bring their new films to us. So we have lots of films now that filmmakers where we have four or five, six films from the same filmmakers. And that's amazing. It's great. It's a rarity take care of your reputation. That's what happens.

Alex Ferrari 7:26
Yes, because distributors technically don't have a fairly good reputation.

Linda Nelson 7:30
No, they don't.

Alex Ferrari 7:32
There's, you know, I just did that image of that, you know, guy who's like 80 years old, sitting behind a desk with a cigar. Making some exploitation posters like kid All I need is a poster in a in a trailer, and I could sell it.

Linda Nelson 7:48
And I have to tell you, more than half the companies are still that. Yeah, I know. It's not a cliche. I mean, anyone who goes to AFM and walked around there, that's what they're gonna see primarily.

Alex Ferrari 8:00
Yeah, it is. It's

Linda Nelson 8:02
Starting to change. But there's still a lot of that.

Alex Ferrari 8:05
Yeah. Because in would you say it is because overseas is like, a little slower to catch up with everything else. Because there's, you still need those kinds of guys sometimes to get to those oversea markets, where you just can't get to them. Otherwise, is that true or not? Um, you could go with someone like you, obviously, but yes,

Linda Nelson 8:22
Right. on your own, it's very difficult, I think, I think still, for foreign sales, buyers would prefer to deal with a sales agent or us distributor, because they know that they can build a relationship and get more than one film. So it takes the same amount of energy to get a film from an individual as it does to get from a company yet, if you do it with a company, then you're building relationship where you can have future flow. Right? And so buyers tend not to deal with individual filmmakers area for sale. If you're an individual filmmaker, you really have to search. Yes, it said yet, it takes a huge amount of effort. So if you can find the right distributor, you're better off to use a distributor or a sales agent. And and there's a big distinction between the two. And that's something we can talk about later.

Alex Ferrari 9:18
So what what are your feelings on the world of distribution today, versus what we were talking about even just three years ago?

Linda Nelson 9:27
Well, you know, and the interesting thing is I I'm sure I said the same thing, then, because I keep saying the same thing. Every year. I don't believe there's ever been a better time for indie, indie filmmakers to make a movie. I really don't. I think there's, there's more and more opportunity as time goes by. You know, I think that there are skills that you have to acquire if you want to be able to take advantage of that and I'm sure we'll talk about that too.

Alex Ferrari 10:00
Yes, and, and I think it from your perspective, I think a lot of people, from your perspective, you see all the possibilities, because you're in, you're on the ground level, you are in the trenches of distribution every day, where I speak to filmmakers, almost on a daily basis and distribution is still such a clouded and in mystery. And who is going to screw me? And where can I actually make money when will actually get a check? That it's scary, the distribution is so scary for somebody who doesn't. And I've been in the game for a long time. And there's still aspects of distribution that I don't know, you have much more information about it than I do, because you do it on a daily basis. But I'm an educated person. And I'm still like, I don't know where what's going on over there.

Linda Nelson 10:46
Right? Well, and I think part of the reason for that is that this business has never been very transparent. It's always been quite secretive and old boys club, you know, type of environment where nobody shares any information. And that also is changing. You know, and that's a good thing. I mean, it's one of the tenants that we founded our company on. One was that we were, you know, going to pay filmmakers from dollar one. So we give our filmmakers 80%. And, and we don't charge any expenses. And we give very, very detailed quarterly reporting, and that that reporting is shared amongst our group. So that that it is the filmmakers that are doing great, get inspired, you know, our wind up inspiring ones that aren't doing so great, because then they want to know, how do you do that? And, you know, and then we can talk about that.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
So you actually share numbers with the other filmmakers in your,

Linda Nelson 11:51
Within our, our private group? Oh, that's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 11:54
I didn't know you did that. That's, well, no,

Linda Nelson 11:56
We do it. And, and, and it's very much appreciated, because when it comes time for you to do a new project, you have real numbers. Now, we don't let people share those numbers, with titles outside the group. But they can make General, you know, assumptions and projections based on genre, right, so you could look at all of the horror films, for example, you know, in our catalog, and, and, and draw some conclusions from that about what the realm of possibility is. And so it winds up, you know, being inspirational to those who aren't doing as well. And, and it makes the people that are doing well feel really, really good. So we really feel that's an important part. And it's been missing from our, you know, from our industry. And that's kind of why like on our website, we share our contracts and deliverables list, it's there for the world to see. We don't need to hide the terms of our contract. So does that fair?

Alex Ferrari 12:58
Right? No, exactly. And that's, that's amazing. You're extremely transparent. And I think that when filmmakers sign on with a distributor, what they're really signing on with for is one access and two relationships. Because you've been able to build up. So you know, just from your experience of doing this along and you know, the buyers that if you have a certain kind of horror movie, a horror movie that has doesn't even have to have stars in it, per se, but if you know the quality of the movie, then you go, Oh, I can estimate that that movie is gonna make us X amount of dollars, because we have a track record of what we've sold movies like that in the past for and current market shares and everything, and you just have relationships, where you could just pick up the phone and call up, you know, a market and go, hey, I've got this movie. What do you think you could give us for it? Is that a fair fairly accurate?

Linda Nelson 13:50
Well, you know, I because the the businesses and stuff such a state of flux right now, that is kind of changing, because it used to be that, you know, a buyer would want an all rights deal for a territory. So some some buyer would approach you for Germany and they want everything Seattle, broadcast VOD DVD. Well, now we've got lots of buyers that are looking to buy VOD only, or you know that. So it's it's become more complicated from that, that, that standpoint to try and project. And also, in our experience, we've found the projections aren't terribly relevant for on an individual film, but it certainly gives you the ability to give a range, right? So you could say, Oh, well, we have some that are making $2,000 a month, we have some that are making $6,000 a month, right. So, you know, it's, it certainly helps you to understand what's possible.

Alex Ferrari 14:58
Nothing

Linda Nelson 14:58
As opposed to how much Your film is going to make,

Alex Ferrari 15:01
Right it's it's almost impossible depending on that, even if you have Brad Pitt in it, like you have estimates, I know. But there's movies that Brad Pitt made that made hundreds of millions of dollars, and there are others that made right 10s of millions of dollars, which, by the way, I would be happy with either. This is very true. Um, now, how has the streaming game changed the landscape for distribution?

Linda Nelson 15:30
Um, I think, you know, obviously, it is the most dramatic change in the past 30 years. And I think that the major players way underestimated how quickly streaming would become the accepted way to watch movies. And also, a couple of years ago, the technology wasn't available to allow people to watch movies in so many different ways, right? I mean, it used to be if you, you know, you you've made a movie, it would come out on DVD, it will go into blockbuster, if you were really lucky, it would stay there for three months, and a bunch of people would rent it, and then that would be the end of it over it's

Alex Ferrari 16:21
Pretty much it's dead in the water for

Linda Nelson 16:23
Right. For Indies. I mean, you know, big blockbuster films that become classics, yes, you might be able to still be able to get a hold of those all the time. But Indies, really kind of cycled through these rental stores fairly quickly. But now, and also, there was very limited shelf space. So how you know how many movies could be available at any point in time was very limited, right. But now we have unlimited shelf space, we have so many different ways to watch movies, sometimes people watch on tablets, they watch on their laptops, they watch on their television, they watch on their phone. So you know, there's so many different ways for people to consume your movie now as well. And there's no shelf life. We have we have films that are 810 years old, that are still earning good money.

Alex Ferrari 17:18
That's amazing,

Linda Nelson 17:18
Which is unbelievable. And we have like n For example, we have a number of films, where people were with another distributor, and their contracts expired, and they never got paid any money at all. Maybe they got a small mg in the beginning, but that never saw any money after that. And as soon as the contract expired, they came to us and now they're earning money for the first time. And their film might be, I don't know, 10 years old, like we have this film called cherry, which is a terrific film, you know, and and they were with another distributor and the rights were, you know, tied up. It was originally released in 2010. Right, right. And so so as soon as the rights Well, what wound up happening is that they're there. Another film of theirs that came out much later, they came with us. So as soon as that, as cherry was available from the other distributor, they had us do it. And now that film is making money for the first time, you know that they're seeing money from that and it came out originally in 2010.

Alex Ferrari 18:34
That's amazing.

Linda Nelson 18:35
And I also i mean they're they're thrilled because they thought they'll never see any money from it. But now here it is. It's you know, it's 2018 and on the front end, and the film's doing really, really well.

Alex Ferrari 18:47
That's amazing. That's really

Linda Nelson 18:50
I'm Brett Robertson's in it. So she you know, was not a huge star back when that movie was made, but she is doing really well now. You know, she has a I don't know where IMDb score is 149

Alex Ferrari 19:02
She's doing all right. Now, can you tell? Can you tell the audience a little bit about the difference between s VOD t VOD, and a VOD.

Linda Nelson 19:12
Yes. Very, very important to understand all of these different VODs or video on demand, right. And, and it's important to understand that, that different demographics are served better by different types of VOD and that's something that we you know, recently figured out for our for our own company. Normally will release a film especially if we've done a limited theatrical on it. We can talk about that limited theatrical option a little bit later. We will put a film out like on Amazon paid transactional first right and see If we can get any traction actually selling it because that's where you're gonna make, if it actually gets traction and sells, you know, they pay half of that money comes to us whether it's rental or purchase. So that's called paid transactional. Sometimes it's called p VOD. Sometimes it's called t VOD, or transactional or paid transactional. And, and so we, we, we try to do that first. But if there's no names in it, and there's not huge buzz going on about it, you're, you're probably better off being on prime and then we'll move it to Amazon Prime. Now amazon prime, it looks to a user. The same as Netflix was, it looks like it's free. But it's not. And there's a huge difference between the two platforms, Amazon Prime, and Netflix and Hulu are all what's called s VOD, which is subscription video on demand, which means that people pay an annual fee to have access to that platform. Now, the problem, you know, for indie filmmakers, is that Netflix has a different payment scheme than amazon prime and some other platforms. So Netflix pays a flat, annual or 18 months fee. And they spread those payments over the term. Right. And so say, for example, they are going to give you $20,000 for your film, that means that you're going to get $5,000 a quarter, right? Now, they really want an exclusive window. While you're with Netflix, they don't want you out on any other platforms, which to me is horrible, because what happens is that then, because so many people have Netflix, almost almost your entire audience is gonna watch it on Amazon, and I mean on Netflix, and that's all the money you're ever going to see. So so they wouldn't really cannibalize your revenue.

Alex Ferrari 22:00
Now, are they buying a lot of indie movies, I hear that they're not doing a notch.

Linda Nelson 22:04
They're not buying a lot of independent films. Because their business model favors serialized content. Right. So more like TV shows that type of content. But But Amazon on the other hand plate pays by the minutes watched. So if you have a strong film, and you have good social media marketing, you could actually earn very, very well we have we have a film that's made close to half a million dollars this year on amazon prime.

Alex Ferrari 22:37
Now, what do they pay? What is what is their rate is?

Linda Nelson 22:42
The rate is extremely complicated. And, and it's impossible to tell somebody what that rate is going to be until it's released. So what happens is they have a tiered system. And what they will pay six cents a minute, up till 100,000. And from 100,000 to a half a million, they pay 10 cents and from a half a million to a million they pay

Alex Ferrari 23:12
15 cents. Well, that's that's not permitted. That's per hour watched. Isn't that crowd watched? Yeah.

Linda Nelson 23:18
Okay, so So, on our catalog for, for example, we have some earning 15 cents we have some are a lot earning 10 cents most that's predominant. One for us is 10 cents, and some earning six cents. You know, the six centers tend to be ones that have been out for a long time, and people have forgotten about them, and they're on to the next film and they don't bother nurturing them anymore. Right. So they're and and it's important to remember that you really do need to maintain at least a maintenance schedule of, you know, social media on your older films, and you can schedule that stuff. Sure. It doesn't become it's not doesn't have to be terribly time consuming. And, you know, I remind me to talk about post post, that's my my new buzzword

Alex Ferrari 24:11
Post post you mean deliverables?

Linda Nelson 24:14
No post posts is, is actually marketing. It's like a final phase of production. Got our after post.

Alex Ferrari 24:22
Okay, so I will I will

Linda Nelson 24:24
Make a note and we'll talk about I will post post guys, because it's critical. So anyway, so back to Amazon. Now, what I like about their new pay scheme is that there's no longer any kind of cap so your films don't stop earning. We had some films last year when they first announced that plan that we're gonna cap out well, they did cap out. And then so all of a sudden the film that's making 20,000 was making 20,000 a month, you know, capped out and couldn't earn any more for a whole calendar. Our year. So they removed that cap, which was great. So when you have strong films, you're going to just keep on earning. We like that. And also, because we're considered a studio by Amazon, we're in 120. territories.

Alex Ferrari 25:14
Oh, so you're so you have access much more than amazon video direct, let's say,

Linda Nelson 25:19
Right, exactly. So if you're just an individual filmmaker, and you go on Amazon, all you're getting is US and UK, because you can't even get Germany and Japan anymore, which was they were offering to individuals for a little while, but not anymore. So US and UK is all you can get if you're just an individual filmmaker, which is why that should be your last resort. If you can't find a good distribution partner, then do that. But if you can find a good one, then you can be in 120 territories. So that's what you want to do. Because every day more and more people in all these territories are adopting are adopting, streaming, just like it happened in the United States, Amazon didn't happen overnight, in the United States, we had the first downloadable film from Amazon in 2007. And we have about picture of that on our website. You know, and so here we are 10 years later, and it's firmly established here in the US. But you know, this, it's all new to a lot of the foreign territory. So it's gonna take a little time, I don't think it'll take that long. But it might take two years or three years, but you still want your film there and to have a presence so that you can take advantage of it when it really starts to grab because there won't be that much content there. You know, there's not won't be as much competition. So and, and it used to be on Amazon that foreign territories all earned six cents, no matter how much they were watch. So they changed that, too. So now we get the same opportunity for foreign territories that we do for the US as far as payment tiers. So the other advantage of being with a distributor relative to platforms is that they have they have algorithms that create recommendations for people. And and one of the one of the heaviest weighted out. algorithm element is the studio that you're with. So in other words, if you bring up one of our films, then the recommendation engine or algorithm is going to go out there and look for other indie writes films that might be in the same genre have some of the same actors,

Alex Ferrari 27:28
Because you're a studio according to

Linda Nelson 27:30
Our studio according. So. So that's really, that's really important too, because that really push that surfaces, all of our films, and that really helps.

Alex Ferrari 27:41
Wow, you cut through a lot of the of the you rise to the top.

Linda Nelson 27:45
That's right. That's right. So that's really good. So so then that's it. So now we've talked about s VOD, and TV, VOD. Avon is a very interesting option. And really what a VOD is it's ads. It's a the a part is for advertising. And that stands for that stands for advertising. And so so those channels that are a VOD channels, they're going to insert ads before, during, and after your movie. Now, you know, not too far back, we all watch movies on television. And there were always advertising. So there's a lot of people that are quite comfortable with having ads. My personal preference is to not have ads and be able to watch a movie straight. So but but there's a huge part of the demographic, it really can't afford to spend $120 on cable, or whatever it takes to get all of these subscription charges, you know, so, you know, they don't want to have to pay money to be on prime and pay more money to have Netflix and pay more money for this or that. And so they're quite comfortable. You having a Roku box and watching ads supported channels.

Alex Ferrari 29:05
So so and that's a part of VOD is like Roku, who are some of the services. Well,

Linda Nelson 29:09
The the the top ad supported channel is called tubi. tv. Are you familiar with this? I've

Alex Ferrari 29:17
Seen it on my I seen it as I scan through my apps

Linda Nelson 29:19
Night so so tubi TV is what is the most popular right now. Now, I'm about two years ago, we wanted to get in on this so called Ott market, which is the streaming channels. They're called the Ott for over the top. And they mean it means that they're they're they they're not linear, their streaming channels that are not linear. They're like their apps basically. And and so it means that you can watch what you want when you want to watch it on any device. Right. So it's people are moving away from the old linear model of broadcasting We'll talk about broadcasts in a few minutes, too, because that's important to see what's happening with that. But people no longer want to have a TV Guide and have to look up something and say, Oh, I gotta be home on Tuesday night at three, you know? Right. I mean, I think those days are pretty much over.

Alex Ferrari 30:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Linda Nelson 30:28
But so, so there is a huge demographic that is maybe a little bit lower income, right, or maybe less educated, or whatever, they they aren't going to spend the money on prime and Netflix and those expensive subscription channels. And they're quite happy to have ad supported channels. And so tubi is doing huge. And we have films that are if you go to a to b TV right now, you'll see like our top earning film is sitting. It's, it's, it's sometimes its first, sometimes its second, but it's always in the top three or four films on tubi.

Alex Ferrari 31:07
Oh, yeah. And you can you expect to make a decent revenue if your

Linda Nelson 31:12
Films making 20 grand a month?

Alex Ferrari 31:14
Just off to be or? Yes, no, Toby? Wow.

Linda Nelson 31:19
That's what you gotta have, you gotta have a hit, you know, you can't, you know, it's, it's, and you have to really, really work at what you're doing. So it's really important that people understand that, that everybody's not going to make that kind of money that you really have to commit to learning how to use social media and use it well, to engage with your audience.

Alex Ferrari 31:44
I mean, I'll give you a perfect example. I'm, I'm a recent cable cutter. And I cut and I cut my cable for the first time because I discovered YouTube TV.

Linda Nelson 31:53
I love you to

Alex Ferrari 31:54
YouTube TV for 40 bucks a month. I mean, you can't beat it. And the way it allows you to like if you liked the show, let's say the Big Bang Theory, yeah, and you add it to your library automatically, wherever it plays on the in the world that it controls, it will record it for you in order with episodes and by season. So you basically where you used to have to go out and buy DVDs for seasons, you have access to sure with ads, but sometimes you can skip through those ads without even even stopping. It's it's fascinating how the world is changing. Now it's, and let's talk about broadcast. And let's talk about broadcast. Because Is there any 100 left? Well,

Linda Nelson 32:34
I'm gonna just mention that I'm gonna do a plug for us. So two years ago, we thought, Oh, we've got to get in on this Ott model. So we had a subscription channel built called indie rights movies. Okay. Right. And we found it so difficult to get subscribers, because and then we realized, you know, what, we're trying to compete with Netflix. Right? You know, and, and why somebody's gonna pay $5 a month, you know, just to see any rights movies when they can be on Netflix and have access to 1000s and 1000s and 1000s. So we kind of just let it lapse. I mean, it's still there. But we might get one or two new subscribers a month, you know, you know, just, you know, we thought ridiculous. So then, but then, about six months ago, a company approached us that had millions of dollars worth of advertising that they needed to place on a channel, and they built us a beautiful ad supported channel, and that channel is going to launch on September 17. Oh, congratulations. So our goal is to compete with TV TV, and I think we have a good chance at it because I can see that our films are earning well on TV. So, um, you know, I think that, you know, so that is a it's a Roku channel, and you'll see it in the, you know, Roku lineup, and it's indie rights movies for free. And so I think that it's going to be, you know, very good revenue earner for our filmmakers. So, so we're, we're, that's something that we're gonna do.

Alex Ferrari 34:11
That's, um, that's a really see I haven't really not heard of, I mean, I know about Avon, but I did not know, like the inner workings like you've just discussed. So that's a really interesting business model, because you're basically giving it away for you're basically turning into an old school broadcast channel.

Linda Nelson 34:28
That's right. You're basically people can watch what they want when they want to watch it.

Alex Ferrari 34:32
Right and it'll pause. Right so it is the best of both worlds except for that kind of consumer who doesn't want to pay 10 bucks a month for Netflix or 20 bucks a month for HBO or whatever it is. Right? That's really all they have to do is buy a Roku box. That's right, and plug it into their TV and you're out and you're ready to sell and

Linda Nelson 34:53
Even no TVs have those channels built in. Your channel is going to be built into TV.

Alex Ferrari 35:00
Right, right. That's insane. That's insane. So let's talk about broadcast is it? Is there money left?

Linda Nelson 35:08
There, there is some, but it is dwindling and it and linear broadcast is dwindling, the fastest being for the reasons that we just spoke about, people don't want to have to commit to a certain time on a certain date to watch something. So what you're seeing happen is that the big time players in broadcast are now all streaming. So there's HBO now they're stars now there so time now are shifting, they have realized that they've got to shift, you know, into so um, there still will be opportunities for those networks to purchase or license independent content. And and we licensed some of our content to like Starz and Showtime and stuff like that. So it's still there. But it is certainly turning into all streaming. You know, so basically, it's all becoming digital. And Ott, and I think that the regular you know, network aspect of it is just really doomed.

Alex Ferrari 36:23
Do you? Yeah, I was gonna ask you, do you think that network, I mean, there's obviously the three big or the four big networks, but like, the CN ns of the world, the the news networks, the discovery channels, all of those kind of neural streaming. They're all out there as streaming, but but it's cable. I mean, cable is still a thing, it will be a thing for a while.

Linda Nelson 36:46
Did I say? I don't I don't know about that. I think that I think that what's gonna happen is that it's really they're just going to become cable providers. I mean, internet providers. You know, I'm, that's all I use. I have you know, we have at&t. Right, and we am for our business. Obviously, we have to have fast internet. So we have 1000 megabytes per second up and down. Nice. Which is great. But we must have that because we have to download a livery. Yeah, we're delivering electronically. So. So we need that but, but it's a that's all we have. You know, we have we haven't had cable for

Alex Ferrari 37:26
Five years. I think you see you're much more ahead of the game than I was. I literally just cut off my DirecTV. Now, so um, so is there any money left in limited theatrical?

Linda Nelson 37:38
mindset, no money, no prestige and buzz for your film? super important. So

Alex Ferrari 37:45
tell me about limited? Michael.

Linda Nelson 37:47
We we do we do one every week? Okay, so, you know, Friday night, we're always releasing, you know, one film. And we're booked now until early December.

Alex Ferrari 38:01
Here locally in Los Angeles.

Linda Nelson 38:02
Yes, we use right now we use a theater called arena, Sena lounge. It's a 53 seat theater. It's, it's, it's beautiful. It has DC great DCP and great sound, you know, projector and stuff. So we do a one week release for a number of reasons. One, all, just about every one of our films gets an LA Times review, we can't guarantee it. But 95% of them do get an LA Times review, which is very valuable. Many get a Hollywood Reporter review. But what's most important about it is that when you do that one week release, you're getting a Rotten Tomato page. So we get and we get that we order that Rotten Tomato page like two weeks before the film releases. And you also get a Fandango page, though, because that's where tickets are sold. And so those two things are very, very important. People really underestimate how important Rotten Tomatoes is. You know, so if you go on Rotten Tomatoes, and you look up like one of our films like everlasting or stray, and they have all of these fresh tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes is the first place that buyers look after they watch a trailer for a film. They immediately go there and look at that. And we noticed that starting about a year and a half, two years ago at our office at AFM we'd be sitting on the couch, you know, they would you know, they watch a trailer go Yeah, that looks interesting. And then say Hold on a minute. And then he goes our phone and they're on Rotten Tomatoes, looking to see what the tomato scores are.

Alex Ferrari 39:42
Because they don't want to have to watch the movie.

Linda Nelson 39:44
Well, they want to know they want to know what the critics think and they but and they also want to know what the audience thinks. So when we train, we train and educate our filmmakers how to understand what's important, you know, for billing Buzz for their films. So we train them how to get reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Because it's really, really important. And, and and the public uses it to people look up,

Alex Ferrari 40:12
I look it up all the time. Yeah, it's it has become the, for better or worse it can sink a movie or it can make a movie studios hated studios, absolute

Linda Nelson 40:22
Studios hate it because they don't bother to work it. All right. But if you could you can really research critics and write to critics that are approved by rotten tomatoes and, and get good reviews for your film. You know, if you get enough, you know, unless your real film is really horrible. Right? You know, then you won't, but but if you've got a decent film, some are gonna like it, some aren't. Right? I mean, and I find I could never guess like, what's the LA Times reviews? ones I think are going to get a great review don't want it. I think all this one, they'll never think much of this. And they'll get a great review. So I give up and if you know, if someone like me with experience with 500 films, films, can't guess which ones are going to get a decent review the rest of us.

Alex Ferrari 41:10
Yeah, the rest of us aren't gonna be a good producer.

Linda Nelson 41:13
You know, so. So that's important in Fandango. We have films that, you know, the Fandango trailer has gotten over a million reviews. And I can't tell you that really helps on YouTube, because they have all those. Fandango has all those channels on YouTube was trailers.

Alex Ferrari 41:30
Yeah. Is that how that works? Because I always wondered why those channels on YouTube are allowed to play these trailers and not get dinged for the copyright.

Linda Nelson 41:37
Now, because we're they're sent to them by the distributors, like we send those to them, they have our permission. Got it. And you just have to be that if you have a large enough audience on YouTube, then you become Okay. Well, we're, we're a partner with Google. So we have all of our movies go on YouTube movie rentals, of course. So you know, so so when, you know, when we give the trailer to somebody, then it's not gonna, it comes up in a list that somebody got it, and then we just dismiss it. Got it. And if it's somebody, we don't want to have it, then we make them take it down.

Alex Ferrari 42:21
Now, now I'm going to talk about something that you and I had disagreements about the past. I know you I know why, you know what I'm going to talk about

Linda Nelson 42:32
Self versus traditional.

Alex Ferrari 42:33
Yes, there's this issue, because I remember when I was about to release this as Meg, my first feature, I got a message on Facebook, and you're like, please tell me you're not self distributing your movie? I remember you said like, Yes, I am. Why would you do that? What's wrong with you? And I said, and I said, Well, I have an audience, and I think it's gonna be okay. She's like, and then it was a pause. And then you're like, yeah, I'll probably work for you. Because you already have an audience and you can sell it to them. Okay, fine. And that was that that was the exchange, everybody. And was it fine. It was wonderful. No, we made a we made I mean that retirement money, but we made money, and I still get checks every quarter. My partner, I are very happy with the way it went. We sold it to Hulu. We sold it internationally, through through an international distributor who just picked up International.

Linda Nelson 43:24
So you did get a

Alex Ferrari 43:25
Sales agent for international not for domestic. And then now we just found a domestic partner for wraparound rights. But I still maintain s VOD. And I think Amazon and iTunes, those are we control those but everything else they would control for Apple.

Linda Nelson 43:43
But Amazon, are you only in two countries?

Alex Ferrari 43:46
Ah, no, no, we could because we went through the stripper. We had access not to 120. I forgot. It's probably like eight or nine. Yeah, they got a bunch of them. But we pulled all of them off internationally. And because because of the International deals that were going on. So we just literally just control the US, which is where the bulk of our money came from. I'm curious to see what would have happened if we would have gone with someone like yourself. But also that movie was a proof of concept. I wanted to prove to my audience that it could be done. The movie's budget was ridiculously low. So I did not have to recoup a lot of money. Actually, I was in the black when I started shooting because it was crowdfunded. It was an experiment. So it worked out perfectly for what I wanted to do. Will I do that on my next movie coming up? I don't know. We'll see. Right?

Linda Nelson 44:40
So if you if you have a film that you believe has no global opportunity, you might be fine just doing us on Amazon. You know, but if you do a film that has any kind of goal Audience you're always going to be better off with someone to handle worldwide rights. These days, we won't sign a film unless we get global VOD. And the reason we want and then on top of that we actually have two contracts. Now we have a three year contract for domestic distribution, plus global VOD. Alright, so that so that we can, we can do DVD if you want. It's not mandatory, but we have a great DVD blu ray deals. So there's, there's no reason for anybody not to do that. There's no cost. And it's very expensive, then, and we keep our contract term short, because we know that people will love us and stay with us. So we don't worry, we don't have to ask somebody for seven years, or 10 years or 15 years, like most companies still do, right. And we do that because we know you're going to stay because you're going to get paid and more honest, and you're going to get good reports. And we can't guarantee you how much you're going to make. But you will know exactly what's going on with not only us, but other, you know, filmmakers like yourself. And so then, on top of that, we have a one year contract for foreign sales. And that allows that allows us to take your film to Cannes and AFM because we exhibit at both, right. And you don't want to be with a sales rep that's just walking around. You want somebody who's an actual exhibitor. And if the member if possible, let's if does, if does the International Film and Television Alliance, and it's a global organization, they are the ones that put on the American Film market, got it. And that gives you a level of credibility with buyers that you can't get without, you know, you don't have it without that. So you'll notice when you walk around AFM on the door sign, it'll say if the member if they're a member of VISTA, and so instills a level of trust, right. And believe me, they kick out people that that, you know, don't pay and stuff. So it's a good assurance to foreign buyers, that you know, you're going to get their money. So and it's a good assurance to us if we buy from people that are certified. So it's it's like a kind of a verification certification situation. But that one year, and both of those contracts renew automatically unless you decide you want to leave. And out of 650 filmmaker films, we've only ever had three people leave. And that was because they thought they could do better. And we've actually got apologies from if I'm still waiting on the third. So all right, so So anyway, so the reason we like so we want to foreign without the domestic. And the The reason we like to have both, and we prefer to have both, but we will do just domestic and what's the global VOD without the forum. The reason we like to have both is that we then control turning on turning off channels, you know, I mean, territories, you know, where you wouldn't have that if he had two different companies. So what how you had to take down Amazon,

Alex Ferrari 48:40
Right? That was it. That was a little bit of a combo, every time a foreign distributor called me. He's like, Hey, we have a deal in the UK, pull it off.

Linda Nelson 48:48
So so so that way, it's easy for us, we just have a checkbox. So you know, so if we have a buyer for any territory, it's simple enough for us to manage those rights. So so we like that. And that's, you know, so that that makes it very helpful.

Alex Ferrari 49:03
So but there is a but I mean, and I believe I thought with my movie, this is Meg had absolutely no international appeal. It was a drama at about a comedian in Hollywood. It did have recognizable faces. Some faces that, you know, Krista Allen, who was in Baywatch and a bunch of other movies. So we had a few faces, but no stars, you know, our, you know, bankable stars. We thought we had absolutely no appeal, but I was mistaken because we sold China, South Africa, the UK, you know, China for God's sakes. And we I was like, what, how, why? So you'd be amazed.

Linda Nelson 49:44
We sell around 20 films, a market to China. And there are ones that you would not, you know, think you know, had international opportunity. But they do so and we get very, very good revenue for China. Do you? Can you share what you got for China? Or do you not want to do that?

Alex Ferrari 50:11
Um, we got under under 10k.

Linda Nelson 50:15
Okay, so, um, we get we regularly get between 10 and 15. So, you know, so I mean, it's good, because we see, I mean, we have filmmakers that come to us and say, oh, everything's available except for China. We already sell that. And I'll say, Well, how much did you sell for? And I'll go, Oh, we got $1,000 for it. You know, so, so there's tons of people running around out there trying to get rights for China. Don't fall for it. Right. Okay. There be and and this has to do a lot with this all VOD stuff, because there's a huge hunger out there for VOD deals.

Alex Ferrari 50:57
There's a billion people over there.

Linda Nelson 50:59
Right. And so so there's a lot of a lot of brokers running around. They're not really distributors, they're not even really sales agents. They're like brokers. Now, can

Alex Ferrari 51:10
You talk a little bit about DVD and Blu Ray? Is there a market still for that?

Linda Nelson 51:13
Yes. Absolutely. And, uh, specifically, you know, genre. films like horror, horror, fans love to have physical media in their hands, they collect the boxes and all of that stuff. They're collectors. I so but But definitely, you know, there's some DVD sales and you know, like, in all genres, even, you know, like, dramas and Doc's do pretty well, we what we do, we, we had a very bad experience with one of our films, with a DVD company that went bankrupt in the middle of a sale. So in other words, it was all old school, DVD distribution, you had a guess? How many that your, you know, copies, you were going to make them and print them, replicate them and have them all sitting in a warehouse. And then they get shipped out to places and the ones that sell you get paid for. And sometimes they return the ones that don't sell and don't forget to damage and in the end, hopefully, you make a little money. Well, we did this great deal for Walmart 20,000 copies, we had them all made, shipped them off to Walmart A week later, the distributor filed bankruptcy, and we've never seen a penny, guess who had to pay for them? Oh, we did. Right. So that was it. I said that is the last traditional old school DVD blu ray we're ever going to do. So now we want now we work with a manufacturer on demand partner. They're the largest one out there. And they place all of our DVDs and blu rays on about 100 webs, online stores. No charge to the filmmaker, we leave it up to the filmmaker to author the boss of the DVD and blu ray, give us a nice, you know, they give give us artwork, we give them a template. And they give us the ISO file and the artwork and fill in a metadata sheet cost them nothing. They send it to us, we give it to the manufacturer and they make sure it gets distributed on all those websites. If it gets any traction at all. They might get orders for brick and mortar. So like if it's on Walmart's website. And a lot of people are buying it, they might say Okay, give us 10,000 copies, you know, but there's no returns involved at all right? So it's a great opportunity to take advantage of whatever DVD opportunities are still, you know, strong and and I have to tell you, streaming does not work great all over the country. We have a lot of areas and especially in the middle of the countries that don't have internet that's good enough for streaming. Yeah, right or not?

Alex Ferrari 53:59
Oh, yeah. And people end there's a lot of people who are still, I mean, there's generations and people that still want to own or touch, feel their media and they're not I mean, that will change eventually when they die Oh, when my generation dies off. Alright.

Linda Nelson 54:15
But also I have to say that you know, like when you're giving a gift if you want to give a movie as a gift, you know, it's a lot nicer to have it in the box.

Alex Ferrari 54:24
No, no without question without question and it does come with all the special features and the commentary tracks and all that kind of cool stuff. So I buy the occasional DVD blu ray that I won't buy a DVD but occasional blu ray I'll buy will more likely be a Criterion Collection or so that's

Linda Nelson 54:39
Right it's a classic and it's got interviews with everybody and

Alex Ferrari 54:43
In the in the transfers bits been remastered or something like that. If I ever buy one but but it is going down there but it's still going down. I mean the trend is downwards as far as sales are correct. Oh yeah, way. Yeah. It is. It is going away.

Linda Nelson 55:02
Do you think all the DVD stores are closing? There's, I don't know, if there's any left, there's,

Alex Ferrari 55:08
There's, there's one, there's one or two blockbusters left in the country.

Linda Nelson 55:12
And you know, and and and if you keep an eye on the amount of shelf space that's available at like Target or Walmart or Barnes and Noble, that there just is shrinking and shrinking. All

Alex Ferrari 55:24
Right, and there are there are still video stores. I actually live not too far away from two video stores. I can't believe I'm in Burbank. And I will and they've been there for a decade that I've been here. And I'm like, how do they stay in? But apparently, especially for different type of demographics of people that are not that technically, technology is they're not technically inclined. Right? They still want old school blu rays and DVDs. Yeah. So it's a thing. It's still a thing. Now, what is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make in distribution?

Linda Nelson 56:01
Not doing a proper job during production so that they can facilitate distribution.

Alex Ferrari 56:08
You're talking about deliverables? That's right. I am. So let's talk. Let's talk about deliverables, because that's one of my favorite topics. Because I'm, I got I've made my bones in post. So please, please preach?

Linda Nelson 56:23
Well, unfortunately, if you don't pay very close attention to what you need as a finished product to deliver to distributors, you're not going to be able to distribute your film to the max. And, and we see so many people shoot at frame rates that aren't right. They don't spray Wait, don't forget, next next frame rates, you know, can cause a lot of problems they have poor audio, I think is the most common problem that we have. And you really no matter how cheap a film you're going to do. Make sure that you get somebody that does the sound that knows what they're doing. Very few people that are making new films get clean sound, so they can't make an m&e track, which is what you must have if you're going to really have good foreign sales. We have about a 70% failure rate, first time somebody distributed. So it sends us their deliverables, the most common problem that we get is that they deliver dual mono instead of real stereo. And I swear about, you know, more than half of the films that we get have dual mono, and it's really it's just not doing the settings right, you know, on their editing system.

Alex Ferrari 58:00
And how about five one

Linda Nelson 58:05
Right now, what's absolutely required for if you want to be on the premium channels, like say iTunes and VUDU and Xbox and Amazon and Google Play, Fandango is that you have to have 1980 by 19 9020 by 1080. progress for two to HQ, stereo, that's the minimum if you have that we can get you on anywhere. However, if you want the best quality and I would assume at some time in the future, it may be a requirement, you will want to do 5.1 the 5.1 that's required by premium channels though is not just the 5.6 5.1 channels, it's eight channel 5.1 and that means that you're also adding for Channel seven and eight a stereo left and right stereo so that way they prepare files so that that the system is d determined by the platform and and if you just have stereo they'll play stereo if you have five point if you have a surround sound system they'll play surround sound so that's why they need to have it all available. And then the some of the other problems that we see with deliverables and we no matter how many times we tell people no color bars or tones on the beginning no countdowns we still get those few flames of black and then straight to the movie. That's the way it's got to be and same on the end a few frames about black and no to pop. Right no to pops. That was for broadcast,

Alex Ferrari 59:58
Right it's it's it's a holdover It's a

Linda Nelson 1:00:00
Holdover from broadcast, so people have to learn to get rid of that. So color

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
Bars is I haven't delivered anything with color bars and years,

Linda Nelson 1:00:07
We still get them. And it's usually from filmmakers that are older that originally, you know, that delivered their previous films to broadcast.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Linda Nelson 1:00:28
Alright, so so so there's that. And then also, platforms are very strict. You're not allowed to have any URLs or website information on the back end.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:38
Yeah, I heard about Yeah, I came across that,

Linda Nelson 1:00:41
He still get that. And so you, you have to remove all of those. And then the next thing that causes a lot of problems is that we tell people, you must have a G rated trailer. And that means no profanity, no nudity, no extreme violence. And yet, we still keep sometimes you have to go back three or four times with people about, you know, what is a G rated trailer? I mean, you can't show slashing someone's throat. Can so someone shooting someone? Right? Right, right. You can have there can be a gun in it, but you can't show them shooting someone,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:22
But you but you can do some like red band trailers or something like that. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 1:01:27
And everybody should do those, but use those strictly for promotion. Sure. But when you do your deliverables, you must have a G rated trailer and under two minutes. The other thing that is, you know, has been an issue is closed captions. It's a requirement now Bye, everybody, everybody. Ah, and I'm more we we actually asked people to have two types of captions, we asked them for SRT, and SCC. Now, the important thing is that while we use a company and recommend a company called rev Doc,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:07
Yeah, I was about to say rev is,

Linda Nelson 1:02:09
They're they're great. We help them get started. We were one of their first customers.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
They're amazing. I've used them.

Linda Nelson 1:02:14
They're great. I promoted heavily. And they now do subtitles for three bucks a minute, which is great. That's insane.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:21
Remember those, the cost like

Linda Nelson 1:02:23
20 920, you know, a couple $1,000. God was the $8 a minute to $10 a minute for captioning. That's right. And so so now they have a really good option for both. Now the important thing is that you must get the FCC first. When you go to read just just order the SEC, do not order SRT first, because most people don't understand the difference between those two formats. The SCC format actually has two important things about it that SRT captions do not necessarily have. One is called placement information. And so especially for docs, or any films that have kind of any burned in information on them, you're not allowed for the captions to overwrite that. So you have to be able to move those conditions to OPERS. Elsewhere, you know, within the frame for that. So if you order SCC first, right, and you get your sec file, then it will have that placement information. The second information that's really important is that closed captions actually were devised for the Deaf. So there are what are called atmospherics. So in other words, anything that's important for a deaf person to know is happening, like a door slams a phone rings, when we're saying Right, right, that's in the SCC file. It will if you order s if you order SRT file, it's really just like a subtitle file in this in the sense that is only spoken dialogue. And you will not get that those two pieces of information and it will fail. Okay, it will fail certain platforms like iTunes and Google Play. Amazon's more lenient, they'll take. They'll take either. But so it's really important to get your sec files first. And then if you do it from ramp, once you have the SEC file, you can hit the edit button and save it in any other format. And it'll discard all that.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
No, no, I want to ask you a question about 4k because I get filmmakers just constantly I need a master in 4k. I need to master in 6k I'm like you guys are ridiculous.

Linda Nelson 1:04:35
Stop. Yeah, what? Well, 4k. I wouldn't say stop. No, no,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:39
no, no, no, but like 6k is, you know, I don't 4k is great, but it's not like you said it's not absolutely needed right now.

Linda Nelson 1:04:47
I mean, it's optional right now, but you you should have it. Sure. It's always wonderful to work. But we take it because like we have like on Fandango. We have like 10 4k Films there. It's not the common thing right now but it will be see like right now even on Amazon, they won't even take 4k through Amazon Video.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:06
But it's coming. I mean, look, I mastered $8 million series for Hulu on Hulu original. And they asked for your attend ADP attend ADP for two to HQ stereo, right? That was that was what was going to Hulu I was that, well, if an $8 million shows doing this, I don't know how much this $50,000 indie feature really needs to master in 4k at this point.

Linda Nelson 1:05:28
It doesn't. It's just that it can give give you additional revenue. And and for us, we say, okay, it's optional. We must have that HD,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:38
How much but is it worth spending the money in post and a production to get that 4k? Master in regards to the revenue that that 4k will bring?

Linda Nelson 1:05:50
Okay, depending on your workflow, there might not be any extra cost? Sure. Okay. Nine years ago, we shot delivered in 4k on a red camera and did everything all the editing and mastering everything ourselves, you know, on Adobe Premiere? Sure, it didn't, there was not one penny of extra cost. Okay. All right. Now, if you are on Apple, or you don't have a powerful computer, you're going to have problems. You know, with the workflow and stuff. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
That's what I mean. That's what I mean. Because if you have the the ability to master and 4k, by all means do it. Right. But if it's going to incur extra harddrive cost because the file sizes are larger, that you can't you can't literally push it through your system,

Linda Nelson 1:06:39
Or Yeah, it's not worth

Alex Ferrari 1:06:41
It's just not worth it. No, no, no, of course, you'd

Linda Nelson 1:06:43
Better have a you know, I mean, we had a big tower with 32 gig of RAM and a six terabyte raid attached to it. So, you know, so we could do it. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Right? It was a different Yeah. But if you can do it great. If you don't, don't go Don't kill killing yourself to try to do it. It's not worth it. Absolutely

Linda Nelson 1:07:03
Not. Now, I will say we're not taking any more SD hopes. Up surprise there. People say Oh, but I have this whole film in my library. Can you do that? No, that the exception is a classic horror from the 80s.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:23
Of course, because there's always a market for that, isn't there? Yeah, yeah. There's always a market for that. That's it's an it's a that's a sub genre that that always sells and always will probably sell. Now, can you discuss a sales agent versus a traditional distributor? So if we don't understand,

Linda Nelson 1:07:41
Right? Okay. A sales agent is really just a broker. They don't have any direct relationships with any anyone who has an actual outlet for your film. They are looking for other people. They are actually looking for distributors for your film for you. That's all. And they might take 25 30% for doing that. And then they're going to give it to a distributor who's going to take another 20 30% for actually distributing it. So all of a sudden, you've doubled what you got to pay out.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:18
Does that make sense? Makes perfect sense. Makes perfect sense.

Linda Nelson 1:08:21
So for example, so for the you for us. For the for VOD, we are a distributor, we have a direct relationship with Amazon, we have a direct relationship with Google Play. There's no middlemen in between. We don't have to go to you know, an outside company to encode your film and dilute and our game you don't know aggregator That's right. We we actually do all of that in house.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:50
Got it? So you're the

Linda Nelson 1:08:52
We're the we're the actual distributor. So we're distributing your film. And in fact, we have many sales agents that bring us films. And you're like, Okay, yes. And unfortunately, sometimes their films that we wanted to get, but they weren't with the sales agent instead. And that still winds up with us.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:13
So the filmmakers is

Linda Nelson 1:09:15
That we're paying all we don't even pay the filmmaker, we pay the sales agent. Oh, God, Okay, got it. Now then. Now there are producers reps that are I say gos agent. sales agents call themselves producers reps because that's really what they are. You take someone there are reputable producers reps out there like circus Road Films. And they send a lot of films to us. Right, you know, so,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:42
You know Sebastian and Glen.

Linda Nelson 1:09:43
I know Sebastian and Glenn very well. In fact, I'm doing I'm doing a panel at downtown Film Festival in October and I always have Glenn come and speak. We live for a long time. Glenn's

Alex Ferrari 1:09:56
Actually in my movie. As an actor Glenn and Sebastian are Both movies,

Linda Nelson 1:10:01
You know, and and, and, and he's terrific and you know, wonderful I think a lot of new film makers especially it's their first film, or and they're not they live in Ohio or whatever. And they've gotten in a good festival and they made a great film and they are lost, they have no idea. Also, who's good, who's bad, who they should be working with, and and he is great working with, you know, people that need their handheld for a bit, you know, that are because, you know, like you said distribution is it's daunting.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:35
It is absolutely, and circus Ron, and Sebastian and Glenn are both awesome.

Linda Nelson 1:10:40
And so they they, you know, they send a lot of great films our way and we really appreciate it. Now, Glen also has a social media marketing company called media circus. Yes.

So, you know, because there are still a lot of filmmakers who don't know about post post. And I always make this comparison of that, you know, like, when you make a film, you know, you you're develop, develop your development. And then pre production is like your pregnancy. And then when you get, then you're in production. And at the end, when you have your festival premiere, that's like giving birth. And then you have to nurture your film after post, you've got to do post post, which is nurturing,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:23
You got to raise that baby

Linda Nelson 1:11:25
Gotta raise the baby. Because if you abandon the baby, there's no telling what's gonna happen. Go down the wrong alley. All right, good. So, post post is my new favorite phase. And that's why we educate our filmmaker. That's a great analogy, by the way, the

Alex Ferrari 1:11:42
Baby I did, like, once the baby's born and like, oh, okay, I'm good. And like, No, it's just getting started. Exactly. That's great. And I'm gonna steal that one from you, Linda.

Linda Nelson 1:11:52
Yeah, no, no, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's very true. And, and, and they are films, you know, do consumers and take up our so much of our life while we're making them, and then we just dropped the ball, you know, I mean, it's, you can't do it. So. So education for filmmakers is very important to us, we give all our filmmakers like a 50 page marketing plan, that's only you know, they can't print it. You know, it's, it's strictly in house. And, and it really teaches all the basics, and really good techniques for optimizing all of your social media efforts. When it's really, really important. Plus, we have the private group of all of our filmmakers, and we, you know, share resources and support each other,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:39
You're kind of like an unlock. You're like the unicorn of distributors, honestly. I mean, I think as I speak to you, and I've known about you for obviously for years now, but now but kind of getting back into your inner workings You are so opposite of every other distributor that I've that I deal with like a Facebook group. Could you imagine a Facebook group for some of these distribution companies, they would be flames coming out

Linda Nelson 1:13:05
They couldn't do it. They absolutely couldn't do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:10
You know, it's insane. Now, we spoke a little bit about AFM. Can you explain to the audience the importance of AFM to distributors and what exactly you do at AFM. Just a little quick overview of AFM.

Linda Nelson 1:13:22
Okay. AFM is the largest gathering of people in the industry. That happens every year in Santa Monica, they take a big huge hotel Loews hotel, they take all the beds out of the rooms, and they put tables and chairs in there. And all of the people that have content to license rent, basically those rooms and you live there for nine days, and you sit in the room. And what happens is before the event takes place, we get a list of all of the buyers that are registered from the American Film market. And we send what are called avails, which means pertinent information about any films that you're going to be selling at the market. So in other words, we'll have a poster or a trailer or a synopsis description of the genre, you know, information if they've been won any festival awards, cast and crew and and we send those out to all the buyers now because there's a couple of 1000 of them. A lot of them just ignore the those things but others, you know, will actually write back to you and say, I'm interested in this one, this one, this one, I will I'd like to set an appointment. So probably by the time the market starts, our we are booked about half of our time with appointments from people that have responded to those avails that we sent out to the buyers and then then the rest of the time in between The other buyers that come to the market, they walk the hallways. So that there's a book published with every single exhibitor listed in it with a list of the films that they have. And then the buyers actually will walk, there's eight stories of there's eight floors. And so they will actually walk the hallways, and we all have displays of our posters out in the hallway. And if they see something that grabs their mind, or they have sat down with the book and go, Oh, this looks interesting, this looks interesting. And they stop at your office and either set up an appointment, or if you're free, then they'll sit down and talk with you on the spot. And the process is pretty simple. If someone comes in cold, and you say, Hi, how you doing, you know, what do you what kind of films are you interested in? They'll tell you, maybe they'll say, Oh, I just want romance for Korea, or Oh, I just want a horror for Japan, etc. Or they might say, Oh, you know, I'm looking for VOD rights for you know, six different territories or whatever. And so you sit down, and you start to show them what you have. So we bring with there's a couple of different ways for people to see our films. There's two important buyer databases that go along with canon AFM. One is called sin Ando and the exhibitors every time you're exhibiting one of those two markets, your films are on there for a year. So we've been on there for four years now. So our catalogs pretty extensive. And so those online databases have trailers, so that people can actually watch your trailers ahead of time. And that brings in a lot of buyers to the office. And then the other one is called the film catalogs the film catalog, anyone can see, you don't have to be a member. Anyone could go on to film catalog and look up indie rights and see what you could

Alex Ferrari 1:16:56
Sign up. You can sign up for the email list i get i get i get constant emails about all the movies that they have. And you're there all the time.

Linda Nelson 1:17:04
Yeah, we are constantly having new films on that carousel. Because we're if the members, only the films that are uploaded by if the members get to go on that carousel, only about 100 of us 100 150 maybe. So there's a limited number of if the members and people whose films get on there, and you can look, you can look up who's a member and if to online so you can see who you're dealing with. So so that's the process now. Now, sometimes you will actually sit like in Cannes this year at AFM last year in Canada. The very first meeting we had was a company from China called hawala. They sat down with us and they had a list with them already. They said we're interested, we want to see the trailer for this, this, this, this and this. they wound up signing a deal memo before the undercard can for 13 days first meeting first day. That's under 13 films. That's terrific. So now they're regular buyers must have bought from us AFM last year they bought from us and can and there we've already have a meeting set up for them for AFM this year. So what happens? There's still a lot of this business that depends on relationships. I mean, a lot of people think, oh, pretty soon it'll all it'll be done online. And I don't know, I think I like to meet people that I'm doing business with face to face. And I you know, like and my partner is great at sussing out people, somebody walk out, no, go we're not doing business with that. And he has a real really good instincts about that better than me. And so, you know, it's I like meeting people in person. And so those markets, that's where you build those relationships, you know, you might have drinks with someone you might have lunch with someone you know, or, you know, yeah, and, and also they have a buyers lounge. That's great. That's only for if the members where you can go back with the buyers to these very big comfortable gowns with couches and, and they have, you know, players so that they can watch movies, watch your movies, and you can talk about them. So it's a, it's a terrific opportunity just to have to build face to face relationships with buyers. And then, you know, like, people that have been doing that for a long time. They have all the same buyers come back every year and buy content from them. So it's very much a relationship business. And so that takes a while I mean, it's we're on it were our fourth in our fourth year of doing that. And, you know, every year we we build better and better relationships with buyer. That's the process and then and then sometimes people will take they'll say, Okay, I email me a screener for this one or that one and then they go back and they watch the movie in their hotel room. At night, and then they might come back the next day and say, Yes, I want to do a deal memo on that. Otherwise, you go back home after the markets over with and then you have to have follow up emails to all of the people that you send screeners to. And so it can take three, six months to actually finalize some of these deals. So it'll go anywhere from doing a deal memo on the spot, you know, to six months, you know, down the road before you actually combinate a deal with somebody. So it's quite a time it can be a time consuming process.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:36
Now how should look so and I know a lot of filmmakers listening right now they're like, Okay, I'm gonna have a movie I just finished it. I'm gonna go to AFM to see if I can get it sold. And how how should a filmmaker prepare to go to AFM and what they should should they be doing to approach a distributor like yourself, and at what point at AFM, because I know a lot of people make the mistake of trying to do it at the beginning, which you're pretty much packed on.

Linda Nelson 1:21:01
Yeah, I mean, I think a good idea you can do what's called a half market pass, which is the last half of the market. The first half of the market, most of the exhibitors are very busy selling, you know, at meetings that they have already established to had preset, so the half market is is good. And what you should do is do your homework, all you got to do is you can go on to the film catalog, and you can research and find companies, you know that acquire films like your films, like if you if you have a doc, you don't want to go to a company that only does dramas, or you don't want to go to somebody that only does horror film. So you can do all of that research ahead of time and you can actually email any of the companies and try to set an appointment. So that before you get to AFM that way you can cram all the beatings you want into, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:58
Those last days.

Linda Nelson 1:21:59
Yeah, those last days. And you guys are interested in Korea? It's Yeah. Oh, absolutely. So it's crazy to go, there was no preparation. I'll just show up. A waste of time. Right? It? Yeah, I would never just show up because, you know, you Where do you start? No, there's, there's, you know, there's 100 offices there. Where do you Where do you start? You know, you need to at least have an idea of what companies might be interested in your type of project. And the same thing if you're looking for financing, because there are a lot of companies there that will finance but you need to set those you should try to set all of those meetings at a time.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:39
So I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my, my guests. I think I've added a few since last time we spoke What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Linda Nelson 1:22:52
A filmmaker, make the movie that you want to make research heavily before you start production so that you can understand what you need to create. If you want to be able to have your film distributed.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:12
Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Linda Nelson 1:23:18
The 4 agreements?

Alex Ferrari 1:23:20
Oh, really? Who wrote that?

Linda Nelson 1:23:23
It is written by a tall tech Shaman Oh, and it is very, very basic way of life.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:41
It's called the Four Agreements, the

Linda Nelson 1:23:43
The Four Agreements, interest and it's something that I give people as gifts if I think they're kinda, you know, like, ready? Yeah. Well, or just, you know, need some good advice about, you know, how to live life and it's a lot about being honest.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:02
No, stop it.

Linda Nelson 1:24:04
It's a lot about always doing your best. And then being okay with that every day, you know, you may not, you know, feel like you've accomplished everything you should accomplish, but just try your best every day. It's about not taking things personally because anyone you interact with, right is filtering everything through their own brain and their own experiences. And it's very easy to get discouraged in our business.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:33
Oh, god, yes.

Linda Nelson 1:24:35
So, to learn that skill, of not taking things, criticism personally from other people, you know, is is really, really important. You know, and you have to look inside and you know, drive your passion, you know, from your insides, not from other people's opinions about what you're doing. And good Those things are really, really important.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:01
I'm gonna look up look up. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Linda Nelson 1:25:14
I would say, living in the present moment to totally stay out of the past. We can learn from the past. But if you live in the past, you wind up feeling a lot of feelings that are not necessarily like regret, and guilt. And they can really get in the way of today. And you really shouldn't spend too much time in the future. because it keeps you from doing stuff today. So it's not even a vision. That's right. And yeah, and there you'll there's so many possibilities. How could you ever really have any real grasp of what it's gonna be? I'll tell you. I my life is so different than

Alex Ferrari 1:26:03
I think everybody's is honestly it's just you'd never

Linda Nelson 1:26:07
Staying in the present is just, you know, really, really important life skill. Learning to stay there.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:14
Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Linda Nelson 1:26:16
Oh, my God,

Alex Ferrari 1:26:17
Just as of today as of right now in the present moment.

Linda Nelson 1:26:22
Blade Runner.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:23
Oh, yes. Thank you.

Linda Nelson 1:26:25
Casablanca classic. And current soldato, the new Who? Benicio del Toro movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:39
Oh, really?

Linda Nelson 1:26:40
I Sakario

Alex Ferrari 1:26:41
Oh, you mean Sakario, yes.

Linda Nelson 1:26:43
That was I think it was terrific.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:46
Wonderful. I didn't see the sequel. I heard it was pretty good.

Linda Nelson 1:26:48
Oh, this is the sequel.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:49
Oh, you're talking about the sequel? One? Oh, yeah. No one better than the first?

Linda Nelson 1:26:54
Oh, yeah. If that's possible? Yes. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:59
And and where does

Linda Nelson 1:27:00
That that's an old one, a new one and one in between?

Alex Ferrari 1:27:04
Now, where can people find more about you, and indie REITs. And what you guys are doing?

Linda Nelson 1:27:10
indierights.com is our website. And there's all kinds of historical information on there. What we're doing now movies, we're distributing a place where you can submit your film to us for distribution. And then as of September 17, our new Roku channel indie writes movies for free, will be available on the 17th of September. So we're really excited about that. And of course, we're also on Facebook, and we didn't really talk much about social media marketing, we should do another one, because that's really, really important. But we're we're on YouTube and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter,

Alex Ferrari 1:27:50
I will, I will, I will come back and do another one with you. If you're so generous with your time again, I might do another because we this has become an epic conversation as I knew it would when I asked you to come back on this, I'm like, this is gonna we're gonna be here for a while. So thank you so much for being so generous with your time and dropping and dropping some knowledge bombs on the on the tribe today. So I really appreciate it. Linda, thank you so much.

Linda Nelson 1:28:12
You're very very welcome.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:14
That was epic. I want to thank Linda, so much for dropping an immense amount of knowledge bombs on the tribe today. If you want to get any of her links or how to contact Linda, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/274. And guys, I will be at AFM this year. So I'm going to be flying around I'm going to be there about three or four days. So if you're going to be at AFM, a please message me, email me, let me know we'll grab a coffee, we'll sit down we'll talk and we'll try to schedule a time so we can all you know get together and and just talk shop and see if see if I can help you or be of service to you in any other way I can. So definitely check it out. And if you are in LA, and you have a film that you want to sell or even thinking about making a movie, if you can head over to AFM and even get a day pass just to see how movies are sold. It is very, very, very educational. I went for the first time last year and it blew my mind back this year and I plan to go every year that I can because you always meet people you always learn things there. So definitely check out AFM and I'll put a link to all their information as well in the show notes. And that does it for another episode of the indie film hustle podcast. I hope you have a scary and safe Halloween today guys. So as always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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Why Wait for Netflix When You Can Launch Your Own VOD Website?

As a filmmaker, you want to get your films in front of viewers. The obvious choice is to have them broadcast by a streaming service . . . but figuring out how to do that isn’t so obvious.

Should you try to get your film picked up by Netflix? Or Amazon Prime? One of the smaller, more specialist streaming services? Or should you wait for one of the forthcoming streaming services, like Disney’s forthcoming option?

The entire film industry is headed toward streaming options, and that includes independent filmmakers.

If you can get your film picked up by a streaming service (which is absolutely possible), it could be put in front of tens of thousands of viewers. It could be your ticket to fame.

But you may want to reconsider that strategy.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait for Streaming Services to Buy Your Films

Many indie filmmakers dream of having their films shown on Netflix. And it’s an admirable goal. But is it a viable one?

Many people will tell you that it is. That with good enough films and a lot of perseverance, you can have your films bought by Netflix or another major streaming service.

But it’s good to have reasonable expectations. There are a lot of independent films out there, and only so many of them are going to make it to Netflix. There are a lot of factors—not just the quality of the film, but how you go about marketing yourself, who you know, and just plain luck.

If you want to make a career—or even a side hustle—out of your filmmaking, waiting for Netflix to bestow their blessing on your film might not be the best way to go. You could be stuck waiting for replies. You don’t get to control how much money you make. Netflix will be competing against you with their own indies.

And in the end, someone else has control over the distribution of your films. Which runs counter to the indie spirit.

What if I told you there was another way? A way that let you control distribution and pricing, and didn’t involve waiting on other people?

There is indeed a way, and it might be just what you’re looking for when it comes to distribution, marketing, and sales.

Start Your Own  Netflix-style Website

Video-on-demand (VOD)is a way for people to get videos. Netflix is an example of subscription VOD (SVOD). iTunes is transactional VOD. There are all sorts of models for running a VOD service.

And you can start your own. You don’t need to wait for anyone to buy the distribution rights for your film

This means you get your films out there fast. You’ve created an artistic masterpiece, and you want the world to see it. Why wait around for someone else to start sharing your film? No one likes to wait. And with your own VOD service, you don’t have to.

Controlling the distribution and promotion has other benefits, too. You could partner with other filmmakers. Sell other types of content on your site. Release your own app for streaming your videos on phones, tablets, and smart TVs.

You can also use promotional tools like marketing emails and social media to directly promote your videos, instead of relying on another streaming service to do so for you. When Netflix has multimillion-dollar blockbusters in its catalog, you can’t expect them to do much promotion for your indie film.

And it’s in Netflix’s best interest to not give you the best deal. They need to make money, too. Having another company between you and your viewers will decrease your profits. It’s already hard to make money filmmaking; why would you add another hurdle? When you control your pricing and profits, you can make the best decisions for both you and your viewers.

(Some VOD channels pull in over $10,000 per month. Wouldn’t that be nice?)

Finally, your own VOD service will help you build a brand. That might not be a huge concern of yours right now, but it’s something you should keep in mind. Creating a personal and professional brand helps you get loyal customers and increase your visibility. Offering a VOD service that highlights your films can only help in that brand creation.

You can even build a community around your films with user profiles, comments, and other interactive features.

Convinced yet?

How to Create Your Own Streaming Service

You might be surprised to find out that creating your own VOD website is easy and doesn’t require any technical skill. There are plenty of providers that allow you to create this kind of site, even if you’ve never built a website before.

Providers like Uscreen let you build a site from their gallery of templates with just a few clicks.

You don’t have to worry about the development or getting your site uploaded to a server. Just customize your design, upload your videos, and create your pricing structure.

Of course, creating your pricing structure is going to take some thought. You can use a subscription model like Netflix, but you’ll need a lot of content for that to work. You can also rent or sell your videos from your site, which might work better for indie filmmakers.

But you get complete control over your pricing, giving you the power to make the money you deserve.

Once your site is up, all you need to do is update it with new films and videos on a regular basis. The more you have on your site, the more likely people will be to stop by to watch.

And, of course, you’ll need to promote your site, too. Platforms that include social media or email marketing tools will be a big help in this endeavor. There are all sorts of ways to promote your content across the internet, and having your own website from which to base your efforts will let you send everyone to the same place, where they’ll see your branding and all of your films.

Getting started is super easy. Just choose a platform, sign up, and get to work. You’ll need to choose a domain name if you don’t have one already, and you may want to think about an eye-catching logo, but if you have videos to upload, you’re already halfway done.

If you’re thinking that this process sounds expensive, don’t worry; there are plenty of affordable options. While some platforms require that you agree to revenue-sharing agreements, Uscreen simply requires a flat fee.

When you’re comparing VOD solutions, make sure to check out the fees, and even a small difference can add up to a lot of money over months of service.

Conclusion

When you first hear about it, the idea of starting your own streaming service might sound far-fetched. But the advantages are too numerous to ignore: you can start distributing your films immediately, with full control over both distribution and promotion. You get to set your own prices. You get a powerful brand-building tool.

And because building a VOD site is actually quite simple, it won’t take you a long time or a lot of money to get it set up. Just choose a template, customize the design, upload your films, and set your prices.

If you’re feeling especially motivated, you can also take advantage of things like branded apps, built-in marketing tools, and expanded content options.

You may have dreamt of getting your independent films on Netflix. But there’s another option—and it’s better in almost every way.

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IFH 198: The AFM Wrap Up (Indie Film Hustle Edition)

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I had the pleasure of attending this year’s AFM (The American Film Market). This was my first time actually walking the entire market. I met a ton of people, made great connections and really got the inside look at how films are sold internationally.

In this episode, I discuss the major takes away from AFM, what an indie distribution pipeline looks like, and why EVERY filmmaker in the world that ever wants to sell an indie film needs to attend. Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 1:19
So today my indie film hustlers we are going to talk about AFM, the American Film Market, I had the pleasure of getting an all access pass to AFM and I walked this hallways I spoke to people had meetings, and I'm returning back with the booty, if you will, all the information that I found, and all the experience of what AFM is and how it can affect you guys as filmmakers, and what, what takeaways I got from it, and hopefully it will help you as well. And I want to thank all the tribe members who came up to me while I was walking around the halls and said hi and told me their stories. And it was just an absolute pleasure to meet more of the tribe and and find out what I could do more to help you guys along your journey. So big thank you and shout out to all of the tribe members I spoke to at AFM. Now what's the one main takeaway I got from AFM? You know, I've been to AFM before, but I never had a pass I was one of those guys, I was just hanging around the lobby hoping to, you know, either take some meetings, which I did but never really got into the meat of what AFM had to offer. And by finally getting a pass to go up into the rafters Allah Bruce Lee and Game of Death, I was able to go up level by level and really see how the machine works. Walking those halls and seeing company by company after company distributor after distributor film after film. I took one thing and I noticed just one big thing that at AFM. They do not care about your craft. They do not care about your personal film. They don't care about the art. They don't care about any of that. They care about a product. Can they sell this product? Your film is a product at AFM. There's no art, there's no celebration of the art, or how good the movie is. It's about what what genre is it? Who is in it. And those and what actors are they? And then can those actors sell territories? And what can I sell this movie for? That is all they care about. And it was in full effect because some of the movies take that to the nth degree when you have Steven Seagal versus Mike Tyson. Yes, that is a movie coming out. That movie is going to do gangbusters. You know that movie alone will probably make about 15 $20 million worldwide if not more purely because of the power and the concept of Mike Tyson versus Steven Seagal. It's insane. But that's what this business. That's what the business is at AFM. Sure, you'll see some indie movies like this is mag was there and we were selling through our distributor internationally there. And there are people looking for that kind of product, you know, romantic comedies or small Indies. There are there is a marketplace for that. But it is not what most of the distributors and most of the buyers are looking for. They're looking for genre. They're looking for action, some horror, but not a lot. I didn't see a lot of horror out there. This time. It was more family Action, Thriller, animation, though and documentary. Those are the ones that I saw everywhere. Those are the big things. big the big genres that were selling and selling well. Action, of course, is always going to sell well because it travels well. Not a lot of dialogue. Action is action no matter what country you're in. And that's why whores historically do so well. But there's just such a gluttony of horror films out there right now that the price has gone way, way down. If you can even get a distributed even buy it, or even try to sell it, there's just too many lets you have big stars and things like that on it. But it reaffirmed a lot being at AFM reaffirmed a lot of the things I already knew. But But seeing it in action is is so impressive. The one thing I'm going to say that everybody listening to this podcast do, if you are a filmmaker, and you hope to sell a movie one day, or make a movie and sell that movie one day, you need to go to AFM, you need to at least get a day pass and walk around, talk to people make some appointments with distributors and see how independent movies are sold. This is the real, you know in the trenches kind of buying and selling this is what makes the industry go round, not the Sundance deals you hear about not the lottery tickets of you know someone coming in and being a half a million million $2 million for movie, those are great. They're wonderful for press. But that is not the day in day out business of entertainment of of this of the film industry. It's this kind of marketplace. selling and buying films is where you need to be to see how it's really done. So many filmmakers will make their movie and have no idea of where they're going to sell it, how they're going to sell it, and even even how to even do it in the first place. It's mind boggling, but I'll be talking about that. And another episode coming up soon. Now I know a lot of you know that I've self distributed This is Meg through distribuir, where I got it on all the TV platform transactional plant via transactional video on demand platforms, as well as in Hulu and getting a distributed there. But I also have an international distributor, someone who's going to handle my international sales. That's something that self distribution is not as good at right now. Because they don't have the reach yet. Yes, sure, you could put it on iTunes or all around the world. Yes, you could put on an Amazon around the world. But that's not the same as selling it to different territories. That's where you're going to be making a bulk of your money selling it to those different territories. And the only place you're going to have access to this kind of stuff is at AFM. So just let me break it down really simply for everybody in the audience who doesn't have a basic understanding of how distribution and distributors work. If I have an independent film, I made this as mag for example. And I'm not just self distributing, and I'm just going to go to a distributor, you you sign a deal with the distributor, chances are you're probably not going to get any money up front. Those deals are rare nowadays. But it happens. But more than likely, you're not going to get any money up front. Unless you have big stars or something like that attached, or a lot of heat on your project. You go to a distributor and the distributor goes, Okay, we're going to take it on and want to put it in our category in our catalog. Usually, generally, you're going to do a five to seven year agreement means that they own the distribution rights for those year for that for those years, and you're going to get a certain percentage back generally 25% is you know what a distributors take is now there's going to be multiple different costs involved. Every time a distributor goes to a major market like AFM or Cannes or Berlin, they're going to charge the filmmaker per film. So in that's, that's from this case by case basis, depending on what distributor you go with, but there's going to be a cost involved with that. So make sure you cap make sure that distributor that distribution Do you have a cap on PNA advertising costs, you have to just cap the cost because if you sign a deal with no caps on cost, you will never see a dime. So let's say they get there. Once you get that the distributor gets their movie, they go to AFM. Let's say they go to AFM, they open up a booth there, which is basically a hotel room. And then once you're once they're in there, they're going to have to sell or they're going to make meetings with buyers, all throughout the AFM. And these buyers are going to come in make deals and like hey, I'm looking for comedies, I'm looking for romantic comedies, I'm looking for actions. And then the distributor will look in their catalogue of their movies that are up for sale right now in the current brand new stuff and they'll pitch it to them. They'll pitch it to them just like you know face to face. Like here's the trailer. Here's the movie. Sometimes deals are made on the spot rarely but on the spot sometimes. Generally what happens is everyone exchanges cards, everyone exchanges information. And then a few weeks later, they they follow up and then deals are made. So this is mega sold in China and Africa, South Africa. And we have other pending deals currently and a lot of those deals were waiting now I'll see what happens at AFM because AFM is more of a US kind of based market where a film like this is made will probably do better because there's a lot more us buyers hands because it's here in the US. And when we were a can, it's a lot more European buyers. So us movies do well but you know it's not as good as you could do here at AFM and then there's lots more that goes on after Your words, but that's the general idea of what happens to the lifecycle of a film once it gets into the distributors hands and the process at AFM and what they're doing. Another thing I learned and I wanted to pass on to you guys is you really should go to AFM to find out what your movie is worth. Because you might think it's worth something, that one number and the marketplace will tell you no, it's not worth that it's worth this. If anything, if you have a movie, a movie idea, a script, a package of some sort prior to shooting, and if you can make a go to AFM, take some meetings, talk to distributors and see, hey, you know, I'm thinking about doing this movie, and then packaging it this way. Is this really is this actually worth anything in the marketplace. Perfect example is I did a movie once with Eric Roberts in it. And the Director Producer, hired Eric Roberts, specifically not only for his talent, but because of his name and what he thought his name would bring in the international sales. Well, what he found out the Rude Awakening was that Eric Roberts that year had did like 20 movies, he had just non stop. So he diluted his value, and it was worthless to him. At this point, he literally had distributors saying I can't take your movie, as nice as it might be, because I have three other Eric Roberts movies, so I can't sell another one. And this happened again and again and again until he finally found someone, but it was much less than he thought he would get for the movie without question. So be aware of that. And these are the kinds of things you find out at AFM. You go there, you talk to people, you make connections, and you make connections to distributors, where when your movie is done, you have a list of distributors that you've already had a contact with a one way shape, or form. And then you can stay in contact while you're doing production stuff. Because get I trust me, distributors are looking for content. distributors are looking for films to distribute without them. They don't have a business. So they're very interested and very, you know, I mentioned it in passing to a few distributors about some of the stuff I'm doing in the future. And they were all very well what are you casting? Who's going to be in it? How are you doing this? They're very interested in what you're doing. So that is one another reason why heading over to AFM might be well worth your time. Another big thing at AFM that I think is super valuable for filmmakers is the conferences and the pitch fest. The pitch fest is legendary at this point where you actually see people pitching in front of a live studio audience where you can actually take notes at how they're pitching and take notes at their critiques and learn how to actually pitch a movie. There's also other conferences and panels where you listen to distribution experts, industry experts screenwriters, everybody is there trying to help you the next generation coming up? So the conferences alone is well worth the price of admission. And the last thing I think you should take away from AFM is contacts. You have no idea how many contacts I made, just in the two days that I happen to go. And I didn't have any meetings lined up really. I just kind of showed up and found a few people that I knew and one thing led to another night found this person in the hall and, and all of a sudden my day was gone. And I was getting cards and meeting people. It's amazing. I know a couple of indie film hustle tribe members that came out from New York, just to make contact Sal and Joe from heckler cane creations, came out specifically for contacts. And I met up with them right before they got on the plane back to New York on the red eye. And they showed me a stack of cards that they had gotten and all the contacts they made just by walking around and meeting people left and right. It is invaluable. I can't express express to you how many contacts you can make there. Another tip By the way, another slight Insider's tip. AFM is over at the at the Loews hotel on Santa Monica. And it is packed it is. It's just crazy packed all the time. A lot of the big players that really are doing business business where you don't need a pass as you go over to Casa Del Mar, which is down the street. So many. So many different players and guys in the business are taking meetings there. The bar there is a lot more open, you can make a lot of contacts there as well. It was a great surprise when I went in there and saw just I mean it was wall to wall meetings and people just sitting down talking and just you could see everyone jumping from meeting to meeting all in the main lobby. It was really, really entertaining but the vibe there is much more chilled than the craziness that is AFM so I hope you guys learned a little bit about the inside world of AFM. It is it really is invaluable for you guys to go. I can't wait to go next year and hopefully have some new patients To try to sell at next year's AFM and if you want to get more details about AFM, I highly recommend you listen to my interview with Jonathan wolf, the managing director of AFM, which is Episode 192 at the indie film hustle.com. forward slash 192 is the Definitive Guide to selling your movie at AFM, and another insider episode I did, which was with Ben Yeti, Episode 15. So that's indie film hustle.com forward slash 015. And Ben wrote, literally wrote the book on how to sell your independent film at the American Film market. So I'll leave those both in the show notes. And of course, the Show Notes for this episode are at indie film hustle.com for slash 198. Now on a side note, guys, I've got some huge news coming up in December, I can't wait to share it with you guys. All I got to tell you is 2018 is going to be sick, I have got so much planned for 2018. Specifically January, what we're doing at Sundance this year, I am going to be speaking again is the first time I've not met announced this that I will be speaking again at slam dance, talking about my love for black magic and black magic cameras, and the resolve. And I'm going to be talking a two hour discussion about how I did my post on the Hulu show dimension 404. As well as the show I shot for Legendary Pictures using the Ursa mini called the space program, we're gonna go through all of that. And also talk a little bit of this is Meg. And so we're to be talking lighting, editing, the whole ball of wax is going to be a lot of fun, we're going to be there, January 20. I don't know what the times are. But as the dates get as we get closer to it, I'll give you the exact dates and time. But I will be at Sundance and I really want to organize some sort of meetup for indie film hustle tribe members at Sundance. So if you guys are going to Sundance this year, please reach out I love to meet you we're going to get we get if there's enough of us, we could kind of set up a little thing where we could all sit down and talk for a while. If you're going to Sundance, please reach out to me at [email protected] Let me know that you're going and we're going to kind of set up some sort of meetup while we're there. So let's see. See how many tribe members are going to be going to Sundance this year, but regardless, it's going to be an insane 2018 for everybody, especially for the tribe. And episode um, two away from Episode Number 200. And I have I have some plans for Episode 200. So definitely check it out. I might be putting it out this week. I might put it out next week don't know. But we got at least one more episode this week. Possibly two, cuz I'm getting a little nutty. Last week. I had four episodes in the history of it of the podcast. I've never put out four episodes in one week. But I love you guys. I love doing this. I got so much stuff I want to give you guys so much information. I want to give you guys to help you on your journey is it's insane. I'm just I'm a maniac Please someone stopped me. Alright guys, so as always keep that also going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

IFH 192: How to Sell Your Indie Film at the American Film Market with Johnathan Wolf

Right-click here to download the MP3

Have you ever wondered how films are sold internationally or domestically for that matter? Today on the show we have Jonathan Wolf, the managing director of the American Film Market or AFM as it’s known. The American Film Market generates over $1 Billion in the seven-day event. Buyers from around the world come to buy, sell and pre-sell their film projects.

Johnathan and I discuss the inner workings of the American Film Market, how you should attend, the difference between creating a trailer and poster for the consumer vs a distributor and a ton more.

Here’s a bit on today’s guest.

Jonathan Wolf has been IFTA’s Executive Vice President and Managing Partner of the AFM since 1998. He joined IFTA in 1993 as Senior Vice President of Business Development and established IFTA Collections, which now distributes millions of dollars in royalties to participants each year. Previously, Wolf spent two years as President & COO of Studio Three Film Corporation, a U.S. theatrical distribution company.

From 1980 to 1990 he held various finance positions within the industry, culminating as Chief Financial Officer of New World International, where he oversaw the company’s international operations. Wolf is a graduate of the University of Southern California Business School.

If you want to sell your film then get ready to take some notes. Enjoy my conversation with Johnathan Wolf from the American Film Market.

Alex Ferrari 2:09
Today's guest is Jonathan Wolf. He is the managing partner of AFM has been there since 1998. He is as they say, the man at AFM. He runs the whole show puts the whole thing together. And I really dug in and asked him every question I ever wanted to know about how to sell a film at AFM. We talk about pre sales, we talk about actors, what their values are, how to actually go to AFM, what to do, how to walk around what kind of meetings you should be taking, all these kind of things and how it just works as a general statement. And it is a big, just like another subculture is a whole other world you know AFM in that one hotel in Santa Monica has its own world, its own rules of how things are done. And they've been done this way. For decades. Now the landscape is changing without a doubt. But there is still very much a place where you you know if you're going to go after international sales, and domestic sales, for that matter, this is the place to be. And I was flabbergasted to find out that in those days, I think it's five or six days that AFM is running in November over a billion dollars of business is done is a pretty substantial, substantial place to be if you're a filmmaker now, if you don't have a movie, it's always good to just go get a pass and walk the halls to see what what people are doing, how they're selling it what you need to do. And this year, I'm planning to be there and I'm going to be there hopefully for the first time as a as a participant, not just someone hanging out, as as we talked about in the show, and in the episode today by the guys who just hang out in the lobby, but someone with an actual pass who's gonna be able to walk around and talk and so on. So, without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Jonathan wolf from AFM. I'd like to welcome to the show Jonathan Wolf, the managing director of AFM. Thank you so much for being on the show, Jonathan.

Jonathan Wolf 4:25
Happy to be here.

Alex Ferrari 4:26
So for everyone listening, can you just do a blanket answer of what is AFM?

Jonathan Wolf 4:31
The American Film market is essentially a trade show for independent film where licenses to film and the financing of film takes place. Global export takes place. It's where buyers and acquisition executives from maybe 80 countries come and meet with hundreds and hundreds of distributors and production companies to look for the films they want to buy that are finished the films that they want to buy that are in development and in production. And ultimately it's where film gets greenlit and for film travels all over the world. AFM is really the the door that films pass through to reach the globe

Alex Ferrari 5:12
That are not studio based. This is all for independent producers, mostly.

Jonathan Wolf 5:16
Yes, yeah. So we can get into a little bit later about what's independent, what studio and how all that works.

Alex Ferrari 5:21
All right, cool. Now, what are the basic goals of attendees to AFM from like the different sides of the business?

Jonathan Wolf 5:28
Well, there's three constituents that come to the market. There are the production distribution companies who are actively licensing film around the world, whether they're larger companies like I am global and Lionsgate and Sierra Finnerty down to very small ones that are coming from, whether it's Hong Kong or Argentina or France. And they all have productions that they're looking to license to acquisition executives all over the world, we refer to those companies as sales companies or distributors. Then the second group are territorial buyers, again, coming from about 80 countries buying the blu ray rights for France, buying the transactional VOD rights for for Japan buying the theatrical rights for the UK. And we have about 16 or 1700 buyers that come from all over the world. And then the third group you have is the production community. The middle of the bell curve of that are producers, then writers, film commissioners, post production facilities, lawyers, bankers, agents, really all of those who are involved in the process of bringing films forward. And those are the three groups and they each have a different mission. The the sales companies want to get the packages that they put together in the films that they've completed, licensed and sold around the world. The territorial buyers are looking for the films that that work best in their region and they're the media that they're buying for. And the production community I suppose you could say most are looking either to network or sell something producers and writers have scripts film Commission's are trying to encourage productions in their their region up production facilities are trying to get business in. And since so many films are greenlit at the AFM, it becomes a key destination for those who provide production services where they can connect with people who are about to about to go forward on a film they have an opportunity to to grab some business.

Alex Ferrari 7:25
So there it's basically a melting pot of the world filmmaking community.

Jonathan Wolf 7:29
Yeah and filmmaking community. on the business side, the AFM is about the craft. We don't advise actors to be there. The only reason a director should be there is that if they're actually also the writer, or also the producer, or involved in the pitch, it's not a place for cinematographers. It's about a place for those who contribute to the process of green lighting of film.

Alex Ferrari 7:50
Now I know and I've heard you speak before about Cannes and how you guys kind of complement each other. Can you talk a little bit about the differences in how you guys complement each other at the Cannes Cannes Film Festival.

Jonathan Wolf 8:00
There are three major film markets around the world. And just looking at it chronologically from today there's the American Film market in Santa Monica, the European film market that is held in February in Berlin, concurrently with the Berlin Film Festival, the Berlin alley, and then you have the Cannes Film market or marchais. to film which is held concurrently with can the Cannes Festival, the AFM and and the Cannes market are about the same size, they have the same buyers and the same distributors and sales companies there, there's probably a 90 to 95% overlap, the production community there may skew a little bit more European just because of proximity, the production community here may skew a little bit more American. But the business in the activities and the two are almost identical. They have a festival but the festival runs separate from the market just happens to take place at the same time. And and so the activities are the same the size of the audience is about the same. The European film market is probably about 75 or 80%, the size of each of those who and they probably get about 70 or 80% of the participants as sort of a mid semester stop between these two events one held in Hollywood or in Hollywood's backyard, I should say sanim. And so there's a tremendous value for those traveling all over the world to not only come to the AFM but have their meetings with studios and others in in Mecca, if you will. You have the marsh shade of film, which is held with the grandest of all festivals and in a beautiful environment in Cannes. And so yes, we're not competitors. We communicate frequently. They run a website called Senado. We have a feed of our database that goes straight into sananda. So when someone registers for the AFM within 24 hours, they're flagged and sananda is attending AFM so we work you know, in a very complementary way. Fantastic. No

Alex Ferrari 10:00
How can an independent independent producer with a film get the most out of AFM when they attend? Um, well,

Jonathan Wolf 10:09
I want to make sure I'm clear there's there's producers with the film that are finished and yes, for the film that are in a project state.

Alex Ferrari 10:15
So both both both both both tracks.

Jonathan Wolf 10:19
For producers let's let's do it chronologically, where producers with a project and let's let's start by saying that's a finished screenplay. What you don't find in the independent world are our production companies that are willing to pay for development costs. A producer who walks in and says, I just signed the rights to this guy's life, and it's going to be great, and I'm looking for development money for people to help go let's go hire a writer. They're not going to get much traction unless this is just you know, a superstar that they happen to sign. For the most part scripts are written on spec when it comes to independent film. So producer coming into the AFM needs to have a finished screenplay or screenplays. Hopefully they've got multiple projects that they're working on. And their goal really is to connect with the distributor, the sales company, we use those words somewhat interchangeably. Who is adept at licensing those films, packaging those films, assisting them and finding the right production subsidies and, and soft money, if you will, the incentives to help bring that film forward. And so when, when a producer is coming to the AFM, they're looking for the right match. We've got about 400 companies with offices, these companies come from 3035 countries, not every company is right for every film. So the producer is looking for who handles this kind of genre who handles this kind of budget? Are they interested in projects that they haven't produced themselves? Will they get involved in the packaging? You know, you've got decision makers from 400 companies under one roof. It's It's a unique opportunity, but it's an opportunity for someone who's prepared. And that means doing the homework well in advance. Someone who just shows up on opening day and thinks I'm going to go door to door and everybody's going to talk to me is going to walk home very unhappy. FM is about appointments, and schedules are being booked. Now as we speak. We're two weeks out from the show. Producers need to do the research. Use IMDb Pro, use our website, the film catalog comm which you go to from the FM's website, where you can see the films that each company handles and get a sense of who's right start to contact those companies set up meetings, you're looking for a 10 minute meeting, you're looking for a pitch the goal, the producer in that first meeting is to get the listener to read the script. That's all. A lot of times producers will come in and say I'm trying to close a deal and read the script yet they don't have the understanding of the sales process. Each step is just to get to the next step.

Alex Ferrari 12:59
Now as far as how about if you have an actual finished project,

Jonathan Wolf 13:02
You have a finished film first congrats to anybody that does, right. The the process is is similar. What's different is you're not trying to get someone to read a script, you want to receive the film. Now our advice always is if we have a finished film, set up acquisition screenings, la New York, London, you know, 10 o'clock in the morning, three in the afternoon, not in the evening are not cast and crew people don't go to acquire films and their time off. These are business events, set up acquisition screens, get that film to be seen in a dark theater, not in to care 4k, not on a blu ray. That's, that's being watched on a small screen while the kids are screaming or the phone is ringing or things like that, you really want to present the film The right way, if you think it has any hope of seeing a theater in terms of its release, that's the manner that you want to show it. It's no different than a car show where they've got the lighting just right on the car and somebody is waxing and adjusting every hour, you need to make sure that you're unveiling your your hard work in the best way. And a lot of times you reject the company that says Well, we only take blu ray submissions. Most of those companies never acquired those anyways, they just want to see what's up out and out there in the marketplace and maybe a peek at what their competitors may or may choose to do. So. If you don't have if you haven't set that up your goal the AFM is to get the film seen. The best way to do that is I believe, is to select four or five or six scenes from the film that are great examples of the production quality of the work of the director, the actors skills, put them together on a secure website, whether it's Vimeo or something else, the whole thing is three, four or five minutes and send links to it and say here's selected scenes Take a look. We think it's perfectly positioned for your company. Again, the pitch is going to change whatever the company is the pitch is targeted uniquely at that company. And take a look at this. We'd like to meet with the At the FM we're confident we're gonna, you know, close the deal with the FM or right afterwards. The key thing here though, is the producer is not supposed to cut a consumer trailer, the producer is not showing the distributor how the distributor should market the film, the distributor, the producer is selecting the best scenes to show the quality of the film to get the buyer to go see it. b2b marketing and b2c marketing are very, very different. And producers frequently miss what that is. Even when these sales companies cut what they call product reels, not trailers, they cut product reels in a way to entice the territorial buyer. It Again, it isn't cut, like a 62nd or 92nd. trailer for a consumer. In this case, you're not even trying to do that you're trying to show here four or five, six scenes. The goal again, is to get the viewer to invest 90 minutes to watch the film to see if it's a good acquisition for them.

Alex Ferrari 16:03
So do you suggest no trailers? How about have a poster?

Jonathan Wolf 16:08
No, I mean, look, let me back up for a minute. Too many producers fall victim of a disease. And that disease is believing in the theory of transferable expertise. I am an expert in one thing, therefore, I'm an expert in all things, doctors and lawyers, you know, guilty of that all the time. producers. I'm an expert on my film. So I know which screens in the east side in New York, it should plan. I know the best costumes for the actors. I know how to cut the trailer, I'll help oversee the artwork. And that tends to be a disaster. The best producers the absolute best are the ones that bring all the experts around them and create teams for each film have the best of the best, the producer that says I know how to sell my film is the producer that usually fail. And so no, it is an artwork. It's it if the film is done, it's simply here's the film, take a look at the film, the professional is not going to be driven by the artwork. You know, thank you, Mr. producer for spending all this or miss producer spending all all the time to create art that you think I might use to market that to the consumer to motivate me, just tell me the genre. Just tell me who's in it. Give me get a sense of the storyline, and I'll decide if I want to watch the film.

Alex Ferrari 17:27
So then when you're at AFM, they see all these posters everywhere. Who are those posters aimed and those banners aimed at

Jonathan Wolf 17:34
The posters are aimed at the territorial buyers. These are distributors who have created art. They've created art for the packages or the finished films that they have the the the buyer from Japan who is looking for running a Blu Ray Blu ray distribution, the theatrical buyer from France, each of those buyers are looking are looking for film for their territory. And so this is what you see at the AFM is b2b marketing, not not B to C. Now some of it will carry over. Sure, but it's specifically designed, you'll see a lot of posters at the FM with little fine print at the bottom credits, not contractual. Why because at the AFM, they're creating art as a one off, that's only going to hang in that room and then off it goes. that's designed to get the b2b buyer into that sweet, it may not be the contractual credits that ultimately have to be on the poster. It's the art and the message and the cast. You know, you're very rarely unfortunately, going to see the writer listed on any of these posters. Why? Because the buyer is not looking for a writer. But contractually, it's gonna they're gonna have to be there on the consumer art. So these are b2b b2b posters, b2b art.

Alex Ferrari 18:43
Now, I've always I don't know if you can answer this question. I've always wondered, when you say like the theatrical buyer for France? Who puts that person in that position? Or, or the blu ray come? Like, are there just individual companies? Or like so there's multiple theatrical for France, like when you sell a country, like I just saw, I just sold my movie. And it my movie is going to be at AFM this year as well, that I directed. And we just sold South Africa for for Altair, you know, all media and we sold China as well. Who who puts these people in power? Are there multiple versions? Or is it just really just one person?

Jonathan Wolf 19:18
Well, first of all, Nobody puts them on power. There's much then golly, out there. Okay, good. You know, talking for a moment about the difference between independent distributors in the majors, the major studios, seven major studios, they have a web of distribution around the world, meaning a fox makes a film. They just send it the elements and they are to their offices in Japan, their offices in France, and their web distribution pushes that film out into literally every village Hamlet and burrow. That's what makes them a major. They have a web of distribution. Independence don't there's some independence who have distribution in their home country. But but beyond that they don't. So they look for local distributors, local distributors who are in the business of distributing film. And it's not the seven major studios. And there are distributors in every country. I mentioned, let's say in France entertainment film, I saw UK entertainment film distributors, a large local distributor. In Australia roadshow, you can go on and on. There are 1000s, there's probably about 3500. If you include all the broadcasters of distributors, VOD platforms, blu ray distributors, theatrical distributors around the world, these are the territorial buyers who are coming in to buy the film. So when you see a film distributed, you know, in the US by a studio or by a small independent, there are those same independence all over the world, they just don't exist in the US. They exist everywhere, who's distributing all the French language films, it isn't the seven studios. It's local French distributors, who is distributed Italian film and British film and, and, and, and Chinese films. And so all of those distributors are looking to acquire imported product, not just local product. And so it's it's a mix. And so nobody anoints them they have these are entrepreneurs, some of them are publicly held companies in their in their country. And they're coming to acquire all of the rights from from transactional VOD, all the way up to the theatrical rights.

Alex Ferrari 21:32
So it's it's it's similar, like if I was going to sell a movie to Disney, Disney would own Disney is one of many distributors in the United States you could buy from, but they would own the rights for the US if that was the deal that we made. And similar to every other country.

Jonathan Wolf 21:47
Key thing is, is you know, film is not like selling televisions, when you sell televisions, as a manufacturer, you can sell it to competitors, retailers across the street from each other. It doesn't matter. When you license film, you're always licensed exclusively by media and by territory. And so if a buyer comes in and says I'm buying the theatrical and blu ray rights for France, that distributor that buyer is the only person that's going to have that film in that country. And so this causes this causes a lot of negotiation, of course, because if the if films are highly sought after, there will be multiple buyers coming in making offers and it takes quite quite a while. It's one of the reasons the FM is seven days long. trade shows most industries are two and a half to three. FM is busy on day seven as we are on day one. But so anyways, nobody anoints them, these are entrepreneurs around the world, and they the independence are dependent on local distributors throughout the world because they all went away. the studio's wouldn't be buying the film's.

Alex Ferrari 22:52
Right, exactly. Now, can you talk a little bit about pre sales? And and also do they matter as much as they did in yesteryear?

Jonathan Wolf 22:59
Yeah, absolutely. There's been an evolution, just for those who are not familiar with it. Pre selling is bringing a package that's got a finished script cast attached to director a budget, a start date, and, and selling the film to territorial buyers, and hopefully selling enough of the of the world, whatever your needs happened to be, they're able to use those contracts those promises to pay to borrow against them at a bank and help the production financing. Pre selling. And I'll just come back to your question in a second pre selling does something else, which a lot of producers Miss. And that is, is it gives them marketplace pre acceptance. I'll use an example Jimmy Choo, makes shoes makes 10 or 15 shoes, and he goes to whatever the marketer or event that they have for the shoe industry. And he puts out all the shoes and all the retailers come by and they buy different shoes, and there's three or four shoes left that nobody bought. He made me really unhappy, put a lot of time and effort into it thought it was the best shoe in the world, goes in a shelf and never gets seen again. It's not going to manufacture the shoe that nobody wanted. In the in the garment industry. They get to to make samples. They pre sell the samples, they see what's going to be bought and they don't make the rest. Well, when you come to film. We've sometimes heard this phrase, a film that it should have never been made statement. But we've all heard it before. In almost all cases, that film did not go to a market and attempt to be pre sold. When you go to a market and you say here's the cast, here's the script, here's the budget, here's what we're doing. And you have a good portion of the world is coming in the different buyers, all the different buyers and what their needs are and their offers and looks like it's working terrific. And then you spend seven days at the American Film market. You have dozens and dozens of meetings of buyers all the world. At the end of the day got one or two offers and sort of a shrug of the shoulders. You're in the shoe world Put the shoe on the shelf. In the film business, he got to put the script on the shelf and walk away. And there are companies that do. And this is very, very difficult for the creative producer, who's really not the business person, but isn't, you know, just totally invested in, in the craft and then that that film, it's hard for them to walk away. So if a producer even has all of the financing, my advice is, that's terrific. Connect with the sales company, before you make the film. First of all, they may give you some marketplace advice, what actors work better than others that are not telling you to take it to your film your money, but they're going to give you some marketplace advice, then go to market, tempt to pre sell the film. If it doesn't pre sell, we can still go make the film. But you've been truly warned. You've been truly warned about what what might work and what might not. So pre selling works. And pre selling is still very active. But it's active at budget levels that start to get above 567 $800,000 pre selling and budgets below that it tends to be too small, the buyers don't need to guarantee a distribution pipeline of sorry films to fill the distribution pipeline at a budget to that level. So they'll tend to wait. And as budgets have bifurcated over the last 10 years, meaning they're getting bigger or smaller. 15 years ago, you could have made a $5 million horror film and made money on it. Today, it better be about 1,000,002 or less. The same thing, budgets for theatricals are getting much larger. Like there's always exceptions, and we saw one last week or two. But budgets are getting bigger or smaller, the bigger the budgets, they're much more dependent on the presale, once you get below about a half a million dollars much less because the producers tend to find the equity and the incentives and the deferrals. They need to make the film without pre selling. And so now I wouldn't go try and pre sell a $300,000 film. And by the way, there is a business. anybody listening that thinks with a question mark? What do you mean 300. There's lots of people that are making $300,000 films, selling for six, seven and eight, when all the deals are in and have a terrific business. There are niche markets for all kinds of films, you know, from most notably, I suppose, in the US faith based faith based filmmaking

Alex Ferrari 27:29
Family and families as well.

Jonathan Wolf 27:32
In that budget range. And and interesting left, it's still doing very well in blu ray. But so yes, presale is one of the key components of financing film, along with equity on with incentives along with deferrals to bring a package together.

Alex Ferrari 27:55
Now, can you explain to the audience and I preached this a lot on the show? What the importance is of cast, especially to an international community and an international buyer? Can you explain why it's so important? And in any suggestions to help a filmmaker along with that, that whole process?

Jonathan Wolf 28:14
Yeah, I'm just gonna skim on the surface of this question, because I'm not out there selling every day. And I think sales companies can give a more robust answer. But the the simple answer is, the buyer is taking a risk on the film, the more that the sales company can show the buyer how to sell it to the consumer. You know, a lot of times, the sales companies say, Hey, we cut four trailers, we want you to see all four look at which ones might work for your audience. We had 25 comps on the poster, we took five to finish. We're only using one in the US, but we want to show you the other four, because they may work better for your audience. Well, cast is another element where the territorial buyer can say, Ah, I have something to put on my artwork. I have a hook cast. You know, when when, when Tom Cruise is paid $30 million for a film. He's not 30 times better as an actor that someone's paid a million dollars, or 300 times better than someone's paid $100,000. And when you go above a certain level of payment for an actor, you're buying their marketability and your pre buying a marketing campaign. And so the question simply is, is does that person bring marketability and saleability to the film and and that's that's why for you know, all the way back to the beginning of film. Why some casts are paid more than others because they'll resonate with the audience because the pudding I get on keep using Tom Cruise for an example. You're guaranteed millions and millions of dollars. publicity. And you're also guaranteed a built in audience that will at least look at the trailer and pay attention. And it tells the audience, well, this film is gonna have certain production values, if this actor chose to do the film, it'll be noteworthy enough that I should take a look at it too, if they only had actors I've never heard of maybe all the good actors passed on it, you know, it's, it's almost like like giving it a seal of approval, that or reinforcement that the film is worthwhile. So it really has to do with marketing from just different angles. And it depends on what you know what the genre the film is, and who the cast is. which pieces would have just mentioned, you know, fit fit

Alex Ferrari 30:42
Right now, would you suggest that filmmakers before they cast before they sign the dotted line with a cast, go to distributors and find out what they think that that cast might be worth of that actor might be worth because I did a specific group of films with an unnamed actor I won't say his name, but he had diluted himself so much that whatever value he did have once was not people are like, I got five other movies with him in it, I really can't buy it. And the poor filmmaker was stuck in a holding the bag. So do you suggest that they should talk to distributors prior to signing those deals?

Jonathan Wolf 31:17
Yeah, and this comes back to the comment about pre selling gets you marketplace pre acceptance. You know, this is called the film business, not the film, endowment. Film arts and download, right, this is business and the goal of every producer is to get an audience. It's we're not painting paintings that we do out in a park, and then we show to our family and it hangs in someone's bedroom. You know, that's a swell thing for art. artists who want to do films for themselves. You know, I tell producers a lot, the director comes to you and says he just written a great script, he wants to direct and you ask him who's the film for, if the director tells you a specific audience, young women, middle aged men, whatever it is, you say, Great, the director says, well, the film is for me, the producer should just get up and run out of the room. Because Because this is a film business, and those working on it constantly have to face the audience. And everything they do, you know, all across the board even even when it comes to when you talk about casting, when it comes to to costumes, when it comes to language is this for girls 13 to 17, which means we need a PG on it in the US and then some similar in other countries. So the shots that we have the the the the costumes that we do, the language that we use has to be at a certain level, or we going somewhere else that the eye has to always be on the audience. And and so where wherever that that's going to fit. Um, you mentioned actor I'll mention and I'll mention one Nicolas Cage. Yes. So there was a time, there was a time where everybody I knew in distribution had a Nicolas Cage film, where everybody had one, right. And he became for a period of time, an independent film, very diluted, he was working nonstop. And there were five films when you're at the AFM had Nicolas Cage, either in pre production in production in post finished. And so yeah, anybody can can become diluted. But that's that's the actor's brand. And every actor manages their brand in in, in a certain way. And the producer has to understand when they're casting, that they're not just getting someone who's an actor. They're buying a brand, you know, to Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, they're buying a brand, whether it's a very small brand, or a large brand, they're still buying the brand. What's that brand? bring to them most both positive and negative.

Alex Ferrari 33:43
Now, can you discuss a little bit about where we are today in the DVD, blu ray and T VOD, and svod markets as opposed to yesteryear as well.

Jonathan Wolf 33:54
Yeah, I look, I probably don't have a lot of new data that we see the consumers you know, more more willing to prep prefers rather to just get the delivery online. I mean, it's, can you imagine that they're going to look back decades from now and say, to watch an hour and a half of television, people used to get in their car, ride in the rain, go around the block, looking for a parking space, go into a shop, you know, go through the whole process waiting in line, blah, blah, blah. And then if they didn't bring it back in two days, they started getting penalties like a like a library.

Alex Ferrari 34:29
It's barbaric. It's a burger.

Jonathan Wolf 34:31
I mean, talk about a transitory technology of VHS from the mid 80s till sure when it finally went away and blu rays as well. I mean, it's it's Goofy, that that it was actually there and truly hollywood, hollywood. Video stores along with blockbuster, they were bubbles, they wrote a great bubble. A lot of people made a lot of dough. But but it's it's technology now is is you know, moving that aside There will always be a packaged goods buyer, the same way people are still buying CDs. They're still buying vinyl. Though most of the listening is done through different digital platforms, and delivery systems, it's it's the same way when it comes to to film in the home. It's just moving in that direction. And you know, who ends up being the big players? We'll see we can we just saw this week the announcement of not movies everywhere, what is it? Movies time? Yeah. And, and so everything's going in that direction, where eventually you're going to, if you want the film digitally available for you, you're going to pay specific, a certain fee. And it may be a higher fee when the film was released, versus a lower fee, you know, later in the film is lized. And once you pay that fee, you have it forever. But what this is done and what the subscription business has done, it is destroyed the value in film in the ancillary markets. And let me explain what I mean 10 years ago selling a film at the AFM to let's say, an Italian buyer, that Italian buyer could forecast what the value of that film was worth in second cycle syndication in Italy on television, and years, five to 10 of the film's life, they would know what that value was, and so they could determine when buying that film, what the life of that film would be. And you would look at networks like TNT and TBS, and FX. And most of what you saw at night were reruns of of action adventure films and whatever their their flavor was. And you'd see it all the time. When subscription models moved up, led, obviously by Netflix, it slowly but swiftly destroyed the value of all of that syndication, not just in the US, but globally. Now, when buyers buy a film, they're looking at the revenue stream about three years out, not 25 years out, because once the film is if you have a Netflix subscription, the film is on Netflix, you're never going to watch it on TBS, what for? Why should I watch it with the commercials at a specific appointed time? I can download it anytime I want for free

Alex Ferrari 37:21
And edited and edited down for content as well.

Jonathan Wolf 37:23
Absolutely. And so one of the reasons that we've seen the huge growth and event television and series and all the specialized series and over 400 narrative series in the US is because these networks had no choice. The model that they started with of showing event film, right off of the theaters, TBS film, 18 months out of the theater going to be on TV is gone. Yeah, they have a few there, you can still see diehard, you know, whatever it is, but most of the stuff is gone, they have no interest in anything beyond a very, very narrow band that happens to fit what they need. And so suddenly, they their, their, their source of content when empty, and they had to create content. And so all of them started, I'm looking at American, you know, AMC stance, most people don't even think about anymore American movie classics, right. That's what it was. And all it showed was classic films, you know, completely gone. Now we're looking at their event series. And, and because why? Because all the films they want to show you can go find them on Netflix now. It doesn't matter destroy their business, but they managed to pivot.

Alex Ferrari 38:38
You're absolutely right. They did pivot and it they could have gone the way of blockbuster but they actually pivoted in Breaking Bad madmen and walking dead now.

Jonathan Wolf 38:47
Yeah. And so and and a lot of them are you know, the question is, well, then this is not the really top of our discussion today. How long? Is this also a bubble? Is this being fed by all the consumers who are unable to unbundle their cable and satellite packages? So fees are flow into all of these networks? And once that unbundling starts to get some momentum? Are the fees going to drop? Are we all paying taxes for films and TV shows that we never watch? And as we unbundle will, that will that source of financing go away? My belief is this is a bubble as well, we'll just have to see how long it lasts. And so so when you talk about the impact of the technology on film, what it's really done is it has taken a big bite out of the ancillary value, and so that the buyer has to look at what they're going to make in a short window, rather than than a long window.

Alex Ferrari 39:40
Now, can you talk a little bit about how distributors set up booths in the hotel rooms at the actual at the actual AFM and so people understand how it works when they walk around.

Jonathan Wolf 39:52
You know, for those who've been to a trade show before you go into big Convention Center and they're aisles and they're different companies, big and small. Whether it's a restaurant show or a furniture show or a Consumer Electronics Show, they're all pretty similar. What we're at the AFM is also a trade show in that way where we have what we call exhibitors with exhibition space. But what makes us different is we're not in the convention center, we're in a hotel. The AFM is held in Santa Monica at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. It's a 350 room hotel, we close the hotel for two weeks, no one sleeps in the hotel for two weeks. We all have the beds and most of the furniture out of the hotel, and the hotel turns into an office building. And we refer to our exhibition space, not as booths but as offices. And so you might have a large company like Lionsgate come and take 6789 rooms and create a suite of offices because they're large, you might find, you know, very small companies, let's say it's it's trauma, and Trump is coming in and taking a single office. You might studiocanal, one of the largest companies in France takes a large suite. And so they're turning their their space into offices. And they do this because this is about having meetings. It's not about the territorial buyer coming by, let me scan your badge. And I'll follow up with you in the months to come about our our next lineup, like you might have, you're selling couches, and here's this year's model, film is very delicate, it depreciates quickly, it has to go to market globally and simultaneously. So when films are being offered and packages are being offered. These are about closing deals with the AFM not creating sales leads. And it's one of the reasons the market is seven days long. Because these are negotiations, we will go into offices, they're sitting behind desks, the offices are filled with couches and desks and computers. And, and, and obviously lots of screens of different sizes. And it's about it's about closing deals. And so the companies who were there, the first few days that they're there this appointment show to there's no drop bys. But but the show starts right now in a couple weeks, I would imagine that most of the distributors, their schedules are three quarters full the first few days. Those companies are looking to license the packages and the finished film that they're bringing to the market. And those are their key meetings, the first few days as their schedule start to lighten up days four through seven. As they have time, they will start to have some interest. And I have to you know, caution. It's some interest in meeting with producers and starting to hear about new projects coming forward. Some are very interested in doing this. Some say they don't want to do it at all at the FM some will only do it when they have free time you catch them at the right the right moment. But every company there has to find new content and new projects. And so they all have meetings, it's a matter of how much they'll have their FM time they'll spend on that. But their first few days and their primary focus is licensing the films and projects they brought in I need to add one thing to this. We estimate that in the seven days about a billion dollars in deals will be done on independent film at the AFM. But the more interesting number for me is more than half of that over a half a billion dollars of business will be done on films that haven't started shooting yet. We use the phrase presale, but but if you start to wrap your head around a half a billion dollars in business on independent film that haven't been greenlit that's what happens at the AFM. You know, we hear sometimes about a producer with a film that got went to Sundance and at three o'clock in the morning, the distributor came along and saw the film and by by dawn they had a deal and the Sham was popping, we see one or two of those stories every year in the trade. I can promise you, there are dozens and dozens of producers that have worked with a sales company for many, many, many months and and put a project together, got the cast committed, got the bonding company in place found the equity found the incentives, but they need a portion of the of the world to be pre sold or they can't make the film. They don't have the green light or they sold a portion of the film. And they walk in on pins and needles and they walk out with a green light and there's more champagne corks pop popped after the AFM than at any festival. Because they they walk in with uncertainty and they walk out with a green light

Alex Ferrari 44:25
A billion dollars in seven days. That's very impressive. And it's consistent. It's consistent. I've been like because you've been with them since 98. Correct.

Jonathan Wolf 44:33
Right and and and one of the reasons you know people say well, why why even travel? Why do people go to trade shows why why do they go to film markets, they can watch everything on a screen technology is there. The fact is when the FM started in 81, there was VHS, you give a VHS and a FedEx box and send it off. The technology has always been there in one way or another to keep people from getting on planes.

Alex Ferrari 44:57
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jonathan Wolf 45:08
The reason there are markets a few things first, markets very inefficient film markets, people who have to travel get on planes go for all over the world just for the privilege of buying. In efficient markets drive up prices, a distributor and a producer want the best prices possible. So there are loads to see and efficient marketplace. We have seen time and time again, entrepreneurs with websites saying we're gonna set up a website for you to buy and sell yourself. And the distributors have turned their back on them time and time again, because the distributors and producers don't want an efficient website don't want an efficient marketplace. inefficiency drives up prices. But the other more important thing is, markets create an auction environment. If you send an email to a buyer that says, hey, today, we're, we're now starting sales on this or that film. And here's the script and have a read. There's no sense that I need to move in the next 24 hours or that film might be gone. But people have traveled from all over the world. And they walk in the door of the Lowe's. They're learning about projects. And they only been announced in the prior two days for the prior three days or even that morning. That if you do the announcements right around the show, and you'll see a lot of these coming up in the coming week or so. This creates an auction environment. And this is auctions drive up prices. And this is the goal, the producer and distributor, they want to hold back and create that feeding frenzy, if you will. And we haven't seen the advances in technology in any way, reduce the amount of Business at the markets or reduce attendance. In fact, technology is just helping to increase the face to face value by being able to set up meetings, set up calendars, see trailers or product reels online, but know that the sales company says you can see the trailer, but I won't entertain offers until you arrive in LA. They want to create that auction environment.

Alex Ferrari 47:13
And at the end of the day, it's it's a very handshake, look you in the eye kind of business at the AFM. Is that correct?

Jonathan Wolf 47:20
Yeah, well, it is until it is that everything's in contracts.

Alex Ferrari 47:25
No, no, I of course in contracts, but I meant more like I need to like the relationships that you build and, and well, year after year, you keep meeting the same distributors and same producers and you start building relationships up. It's something that is is very it

Jonathan Wolf 47:39
Is that way for product lines. Yeah, I back aways ago, the producers involved in the Olsen twins videos, were considering a different international distributor. And I went to one distributor and said, Hey, this is you know, I can set up a meeting Do you guys want to chat? And the distributors said sales company said no. And I said why this is a slam dunk. It's also in 20. Videos distributor said, we sell theatricals, we have a certain clientele who come to us we don't sell to the buyers who are looking for that type of film. And we'd have to start a new segment of our business and it wouldn't be a good fit the same way, you know, film companies not like Macy's where they have everything from expensive Armani leather jackets to $10 sunglasses, distributors work in narrow bands, whether it's budget language, genre methods of financing, and so so you know, it's it, have to identify for each buyer, each of the buyers identify the distributors and have the product that that they're looking for.

Alex Ferrari 48:48
Now, can you also explain the whole layout of AFM meaning the lobby and then the different floors and what passes get you into what floor and all that kind of stuff? Because I've heard of that. Before I was actually at AFM, I heard the legends of like you need a pass to get this and the pool and deals are made out of out the lobby, you know, all that kind of stuff. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jonathan Wolf 49:09
Yeah, it's it's it's actually an unfortunate discussion. If you look at most trade shows, and if you look even at the Cannes Film market and the European film market, you have a badge and you walk in the door. And it's as simple as that. At the AFM. The lobby of the hotel is public space. And for a variety of reasons that have to do with security and other things. We don't have security on the front door of the hotel. If we did, we'd be like any of the other markets, you have a credential you're walking into the event, but the lobby is open. And therefore you need a badge to attend the market. You just don't happen to need a badge. If you want to stand around in the lobby. There are about 12 chairs in the lobby. Yes, I know, the place to go hang out and it's usually only those People who don't have a badge and are you know, and are just hanging out. It's it's not a place most people with a credential stack. Once you start to go upstairs or elevators, you need a badge to access the any other part of the hotel. And this is where all of the the sales company offices are. So yeah, there's a lobby, and you know, but But boy, you know, if you're hanging out in the lobby, you're sort of tagged to someone hanging out in the lobby. You know, we had Adam Carolla come and speak, when he had done his film, road heart, and he walked into the lobby through the lobby to get to the, to the seminar room that we had set up. And the interviewer asked him his first question. And before he answered the question, he looks at the camera looks at the interviewer and says, Did you see all the douchebags in the lobby? And he does a minute and a half riff, including things like if they'll kind of bomb this place, the world's supply of douchebags it take 10 years to replenish. went on and on. Of course, we had this pipe out into the lobby, we have screens in the lobby,

Alex Ferrari 51:13
Oh, no, no.

Jonathan Wolf 51:17
Dude, he's talking about you. So all I can save the listeners is, if you come into the FM come to the FM with a credential and your player. If you're hanging out in the lobby, and, you know, I gotta say, you know, there's some people who are actors or actresses and think if they're down in the lobby, they may get discovered and hang out in the bar. It's, it's, it's, it's just not what you do. It's really an indication of I'm not in the business.

Alex Ferrari 51:43
Got it. Now. Did Adam make it out Okay?

Jonathan Wolf 51:47
Yeah, he did. You know, I think we sort of snuck him out the back door, because he realized it wasn't safe to go through the lobby, his exit. But it's so you know, look, it was funny. This is my show. And I'm not insulting my show, of course. But I'm but I'm just trying to say that, that the people who have credentials when they're going to go grab a drink at the bar, they tend to go to a bar, one of the other hotels and not downstairs at the lows.

Alex Ferrari 52:15
And there's plenty and there's plenty of bars and restaurants around the lows, that there's so much business being done, if not at the lows around the lows.

Jonathan Wolf 52:24
Seen in some of the other hotel lobbies.

Alex Ferrari 52:26
Yeah, no question. Now. Can you explain what the IFTA is?

Jonathan Wolf 52:32
Sure. The Independent Film and Television Alliance, that's the parent organization of the American Film market. We're a trade association. And for those who don't know what a trade association is, trade groups are brought together by by industries, to perform services that are best done collectively, for that industry, whether National Restaurant Association, American Medical Association, Motion Picture Association. Usually those are things like public policy, advocacy, lobbying, research programs, that that all the participants in an industry can benefit from, without giving specific benefit to one over another. So competitors get together there 4000 trade groups in this country alone. They're viewed by the IRS is as nonprofits. It's a dues based system. In in the film industry, I mean, you have an NA B, the National Association of Broadcasters, you have the Motion Picture Association MPa, who only has seven members of seven studios, the Independent Film and Television Alliance, we have about 130 members, we represent them from a distribution standpoint, from an export standpoint, we're an international trade group, not domestic, we have members in about 21 or 22 countries. And the common bond is they are all exporting film and television, outside their home country. And so we provide programs and services and representation around the revenue flow. For the most part, we don't look after their needs on the production side, because production is very local. A member in Hong Kong who has an issue with production is going to have a very different issue than a member that might be in Australia, or a member in the UK or the US. But their export and distribution issues are very, very similar. And so in fact, we have more members in Hong Kong than we do in New York. And so, if you look at our website, don't go into a lot of the details as I FTA hyphen, online.org. You'll see, you know, touches on a lot of what we do, but the number one thing we do is advocacy, lobbying, the voice of the independence there are many, many areas where laws are being around the world where laws are being proposed, that could benefit the studios and hurt the independence. And a lot of times we work hand in hand with the MPAA. There's somebody in our office is probably on the phone every day with the NBA. Because various issues of protecting intellectual property, we're both on the same side. But a lot of other issues, we're on the same sides and, and we'll put together united front. But then sometimes we are on the opposite sides of the table, on on on some issues. And so I'll give you a simple example, if if in a country, there, were going to pass a tax a two cent tax on the box office, there was going to go into a fund that was going to help local production or local distribution, it's possible that the MPAA might be there saying, well, this is just going to be, it's going to hurt box office revenue, it's going to decrease our revenue, we don't think it's right, blah, blah, blah, and a competitive, we would be in there on the other side of the table with the local distributors saying this is good, because independence are dependent on strong local business, infrastructures and film to have customers. There's a big, big move for the last five years in the UK and the EU to create a single digital market. Meaning that if you license your film in any country, for and digitally in any country, it must simultaneously be available in all countries now. Wow. Well, this destroys territory licensing, right? But it's perfect. If you're a studio or Amazon or Netflix, no problem, you just put it out all at once. Right. But if you're licensing by territory, and suddenly your little license in Denmark, that person has the right to show the film in Italy and Sweden and, and everywhere else. You've destroyed that value. We've spent five years constantly in the EU, building coalitions to fight that that legislation. So you know, I'm not the expert on this. And I'm not the one that's sitting in the EU. But but but there are many, many areas where the business model of the independence is so different than the business model of the majors, that the independence need that representation to assure that they stay alive.

Alex Ferrari 57:01
That's, that's fascinating. I had no idea about the IFTA and what they did. So thank you for, for helping us out as we as we continue to grow as an industry. Now, you guys do a lot of educational and panels at the AFM. Are there any conferences or panels that you are personally excited about?

Jonathan Wolf 57:23
Well, I'm always always have a lot of fun at the pitch conference, the pitch conference, it's a little different than most pitch conferences, most pitch conferences, you're hoping someone might want to be involved with the film or the giving you advice on how to change the film up a little bit to make it more marketable. Our pitch conference doesn't critique the content, it critiques the quality of the pitch. It's all about the sales process. And we have about 25 filmmakers to come up on stage, we have a panel of three experts, they do a two minute pitch, and then the pitch is critiqued. And, and the audience never leaves. Everybody is taking notes not on the project. But learning how to pitch because one of the problems that we see in our industry is that that selling the sales process, the value of the salesperson is horribly undervalued. Sales is one of if not the top paying profession in the world, much more than doctors and lawyers. But we as consumers actually don't come in contact with salespeople we think we do. But we don't. Yes, if it's a house or a car, that's it. But I'm not talking about someone behind the cosmetics counter at Macy's. But if you sit and look around anywhere who sold the asphalt in that street who sold the metal in that building, most salespeople are a b2b business. And it's a very, it's a very highly skilled area. And producers don't understand that they're in the business of b2b selling. And and so we try and help them understand creative producers, what the sales process is about. The best example is C at the FM and we'll see it over and over. Even people listening to this are going to do what I'm about to say don't do which is they will walk in, they'll meet someone. They'll say hello, they might ask their name if they get that far, and then they'll start to tell them about their pitch. Have you ever walked on a car dealer's lot? The car dealer walks up to you and says Hi, my name is Frank. I've got the perfect car for you. It's a red four door it gets great gas and the blah blah, blah, blah, blah tells you all about the car. No, the salesman first qualifies the prospect. When are you buying What are you looking for? What's your economics? What's your budget, and then tailors his pitch to meet the needs of the prospect? Over and over? I will I will walk by offices at the FM an internal be out there. You know person taking messages. It's going to schedule. How's it going? great company pause for a second, let's say yeah, I've just heard three pitches today. I'm an intern and they keep pitching me. But it happens. Because there's there's this feeling in social media, it's create a little bit of this. There's a feeling of, if I just put it out everywhere, like pixie dust somewhere, someone will mention it magically, I'm going to get that that that phone call. It's faith based pitching. And, and that's, that's not what works. The first thing, the salesman producer, does not the creative producer, but the salesman producer is does is understands what the buyer wants. You know, we talked about the sales companies. Let me let me just go off topic for a second. We talked about the sales companies that the AFM and their, their licensing to buyers from all over the world. These are the best pitchers in the world, bar none. And I'm not exaggerating, think if you're a salesperson for a film company, the acquisitions department has put together three projects and they said here they are. There's a romantic comedy, there's an action adventure, and there's a real tough drama, American drama, and they're on pre production, your job is to go sell them at the AFM. That's your job, every 15 minutes, you're meeting with buyers from around the world don't always speak English. Well, they have different needs and different things. And every 15 minutes you're pitching, and you're actually selling and closing deals on films that you weren't involved in packaging, that you may or may not like, it doesn't matter. And this is your job and you don't sell films, the films don't get made and you don't have a job. These are the best pitchers in the world. And, and the skill is so undervalued by producers, they think it's like like their firstborn, I know how to dress it, I'm going to you know, hold his hand walking to school for the first day, I'm going to tell the teacher how to talk to my child, you know, they have to hold on, they won't, they won't put it in the hands of someone else. You know, in my advice, I tell a producer, find a sales producer, your creative producer, and then don't go to the meetings. And they'll look at me in horror. Like what do you mean, I don't go to meeting you're sold a house or a condo? The first thing that salesperson says I'm showing the house today get out?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:11
Yes, you're absolutely right. Yeah,

Jonathan Wolf 1:02:16
You're just gonna mess it up. Because all you're gonna do as a producer who loves the film, is focus on how much you love the film, not on how to connect, literally connect with that buyer. You know, you sell in cars, and I gotta admit, I sold cars for two years, when I was in school. somebody walks into the lot, you know, I want to know all about, I want to know everything about so that I can tailor the car, I can tailor the pitch rather, to meet what they need the same thing the buyer walks in, what do you need, I need I need action adventures with cast. Well, great film that you had that might not have a lot of action, it just became a lot more action. And that cast we're looking for I'm gonna focus on the one name that happens to be, even though it might be a small roll. Well, I'm just you know, I'm just giving sure they know how to pitch. And and this is sorry, what got me off on this tangent. I don't even remember now. But but it's just so so important. And a salesman producer knows this.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:15
Right? You know, you were talking about the pitch fest at.

Jonathan Wolf 1:03:19
So it's trying to help. My goal in this in this in this pitch conference is not to make the room full of great pitchers, it's 600 people in the audience. They don't all be great pitchers. My goal is for most of them to open their eyes and saying I shouldn't be doing this. Right. They're not the cinematographer. They're not the set designer. They don't need to be the pitcher. It's for them to realize I'm outside my comfort zone. And the project is at risk. If I'm the one that's going to stay in the deep end, I need to find an expert to connect with. And that's one of the advantages of being at the AFM. It'd be 15 to 1700 producers among the 7000 are there 15 1700 producers in about 30 countries, it's an opportunity to find those producers that can pitch and can sell.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:09
It's very similar to when you're making a movie you you hire a cinematographer, you hire production designer, you hire a writer because they're outside of your comfort zone and I think everyone forgets the the marketing aspect of things and the sales aspect of things and they think they can do it all themselves for some reason.

Jonathan Wolf 1:04:25
I have producers that every year two or three producers will come and take an office at the AFM and say I don't need a sales agent. I'm Sally saving the five to 20% fee and I know my film better than they do and I'm going to sell it myself and invariably they buy ads to do all these things the doors that open no one comes in and and they have a horrible experience and they write to me tell me I don't know how to run a film market after a minute by the conversation we had that I said don't do it. And and it's the same reason we don't see a sign that says for sale by owner on a house. You know, as much as as much as we think Third up doing is opening the door, and then standing around watching TV while people walking around the house, and then I'm paying 5% of them just to stand around on a Sunday? Well, yeah, because there's more to it that you don't see. And, you know, selling a film internationally, most buyers won't buy from a producer. First. And I guess most important is, is they're not sure that the producer can actually affect a full international delivery. Or that it's more than just Texas titles and fill them any tracks. There's a whole lot of stuff, marketing materials, chain of title, all these things, they all have to happen at the same time globally. Hopefully, boy, you know, you buy a film, you find out a cut released in a different country three months earlier, now it's being pirated in your country, you're screwed. So unless they can steal it, you know, real, you know, love real low offer. when when when buyers see something for sale by a producer, they don't know who it is and what it is in their business with them before it's a one off, they just stay away. They don't even take the meetings.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:07
Right! It's more then I've heard that before that they will not. It takes years before they can build relationships, if we're going to the FM every year and they're like, oh, he see he's back. Oh, she's back. Okay, then slowly, but surely, you start building those relationships to the point where like, you have that connection. But generally speaking, they don't.

Jonathan Wolf 1:06:25
And that's because in pre sales seller, the pitcher is saying, you get through the whole pitch, there's one underlying comment, which is, the film is going to be profitable for you. Notice, I didn't say the film is going to be good, the film is going to be profitable. And and that, ultimately, is the promise that every picture is made. When you're a buyer saying I'm in love with the film, then I love with the story. They're in love with the profit potential the film, and and so the pitchers are pitching the profitability of the film, because that's what the b2b pitches. It's not about what you are going to experience, the joy, the crying the laughter, they are pitching profitability. That's and that means the trailer, and the artwork, and everything is based on pitching profitability. That's a totally different marketing campaign, then you go to a consumer, where you're pitching the experience, and and beat it. That's why the b2b sales is very different. And that's why when you get to the, when you get to the producer trying to do their own pitch, they're really pitching and selling the consumer experience. They're not pitching the profitability that the buyer might have.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:38
That I mean, Jonathan, this interview has been eye opening and amazing, and I really appreciate you taking the time out to to drop amazing knowledge bombs on our on the tribe. I have a couple questions I asked all my, my guests if you have if you have some time?

Jonathan Wolf 1:07:54
Sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:55
What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Jonathan Wolf 1:08:01
Well, can you define filmmaker,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:03
director, producer, someone who actually wants to produce a film? So let's say producer,

Jonathan Wolf 1:08:08
Okay, yeah, producer is better than writer, or director. So first of all, there are three kinds of producers. There's a creative producer who really worked with writers and, and develop stories and understands the texture, the script, there's a salesman producer, we talked about a lot. You know, walks the walk, talks to talk knows how to sell anything. Then there's the line producer, who takes the great script and the dough that the sales producers raised and knows how to work with, with, with the unions and the location scouts, and how to get on time and time. So you know, really working backwards in that group. Line producers just need experience. You need to just get on sets start at the bottom work their way up. You know, sales producers, they don't need any advice for me. They're better at it than I am. They they know how to make the connections, they know how to work a room there. They know who the players are. My advice for the floor, the only advice I really have is for the creative producer. Find a sales producer. Find a sales producer, if you're the creative producer and you believe that you can really work well and develop a develop film that's going to resonate with an audience. Then find the sales producer who has faith in working with you. As you develop it and work as a team. Most producers are producing teams. And sometimes they do both. Each one one develops the other pitches, sometimes that one of them has a better idea of how to work the pitch than the other. But I would say fine, fine teams. One of the problems of creative producers have it's similar to writers First of all, a lot of creative producers. Let's face it a writers producer so they could sell their script. Compared to music, if you're a drummer and say, Oh, I want to be in a band. Well, I need someone plays bass and where do I find these people? I'm just sitting at home in my garage with my drums. You Get out there, you start meeting people, you go to clubs, you do gigs, you see gigs, and you start to find people that you can start to create relationships with writers are terrible at this. There used to be sitting alone, you know, a drummer needs a band, they need everybody else, you just can't put a headset on, listen to other people's music, play along with it, you need other people. So you're really into that collaborative process. writers are used to sitting alone with a door shut and their thoughts. And, and they really struggle at the process of networking connecting. So all I can really say is when you're not writing, it better be building relationships. And it isn't always with Let me tell you about the film that I've got, you know, it's it's building relationships, building trust, finding the producer, who can who can sell.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:46
And can you tell me the book that had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Jonathan Wolf 1:10:53
Well, you know, I don't read enough. But it was a book in political science in college, called the irony of democracy,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:04
Okay.

Jonathan Wolf 1:11:06
And the theory or the theme of that book was that in all democracies, you have political institutions, you have hierarchies, whether they're their government institutions, non government organizations, and everything that ultimately have people at the top who are elites. And theory, this book was, elites have more in common with other elites even have opposing views than they do with the people who they represent. And that the irony of the democracy is that it's those elites that work in concert with others, not always to the benefit of those they represent. And so too long time ago, and I haven't thought about it many years, but I got a book that, that that stuck with me. That's it, it's probably Long, long out of print. It's a college textbook.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:02
Great, great, great book sounds like a great book. And then what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in your industry, or in life?

Jonathan Wolf 1:12:15
Every day, I realized I know less. When I, you know, when I got out of school, I knew everything. I know less, and tomorrow, I'm going to discover I know even less.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:29
Jonathan, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to the tribe and myself. So and it's again been an absolute pleasure having you on the show,

Jonathan Wolf 1:12:36
Happy to do and really enjoyed the discussion.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:39
Well, I know a lot more about AFM than I did before this interview for without question, and I want to thank Jonathan again for being on the show and, and being so candid about the entire process of AFM and how to really sell a movie what what buyers are looking for, and I feel it again. So many times filmmakers forget that this is a business. As my friend Suzanne Lyons says the word there show when there's business and the word business has twice as many letters as the word show for a reason. You know, it is so important to understand how to make a movie but is that as equally important on how to sell a movie and actually make money and to maintain a sustainable career as a filmmaker and as a film producer or writer or director. Now I know of a few tribe members who are going to be at AFM, I'm going to be there on November 1, I'm going to be walking around, if you guys are going to be there and love to catch a drink, get together, I'll be there most of the day of flying around and going to events and things like that. So please reach out to me, let me know if you guys are going to be there. We can meet in the lobby, we can hang out, we could do some stuff. It'll be a lot of fun. And if you guys are interested in going it is on November 1 through the eighth in Santa Monica, you can still get passes, you can still get tickets to go. And definitely if you are in the Los Angeles area or can get here. And you want to learn how to sell your movie and see how movies are really sold. I highly suggest you guys attend. Because it's definitely a amazing educational experience for all filmmakers. Whether you're going to self distribute or not self distribute, you should know how others are making money selling their movies. Now I'll put links to everything we spoke about in the episode at indiefilmhustle.com /192 in the show notes, and if you guys haven't already, please head over to our YouTube channel. It is blowing up we are getting close to 10,000 subscribers, which I know in the grand scope of YouTube is not that big. But for us. That's pretty big. And I'm really excited. And it's growing very fast, especially with our new shows that we have going on the director series and the indie film, hustle film school as well as replays of the podcast and I've got some big stuff coming up in January. And actually, since I want to take this moment to see if you guys can help. I've got a show idea that I want to do for the channel. And it's called, ask Alex. I've done a few of those on the podcast, but I'm actually going to create a YouTube show where I'm going to answer one question from the tribe every day for 30 days in January. So we're going to, I'm going to release them every day in January. And I need questions. Any questions from you guys? So what I want to do is get your questions, your name will be read out on the show, and I'll also put up your your Twitter handle, as well. So you can get a little bit of press and little bit push on your stuff as well. And I want questions about everything in the film industry. What your your what your questions are about what's going on in the business? Should I go to film school? Should I not go to film school? How should I make this? How should I do that? Anything you want, I will be an open book and try to help you as much as humanly possible. So it's an experiment, guys, I'm going to do this for 30 days. And if it's a if it's a big experiment and works well, and people really seem to like it, it might be something I'll do a more continuous show on. But that's the plan. And I am hopefully going to be going as well to Sundance this year. Again, I'm going to be doing a special series of interviews like we did last year, maybe a little bit different, a little bit bigger. We're going to see what we can do. I'm going to create a lot more content coming in from Sundance as well this year. So I'm hoping I'm still trying to figure it all out. I'm hoping I'll be able to do that as well. So for your questions, please email [email protected] That's [email protected] Now I will be selecting 30 questions for the show. So hopefully your question will get in and if it doesn't get in, don't worry. I'm going to do my best to answer those questions. in later episodes of the podcast. Maybe later episodes of the Ask Alec show on YouTube. We'll see. So thank you guys for listening. I hope you got a lot out of this episode. And as always keep that also going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

IFH 167: How to Make $3 Million Selling Your Indie Film on iTunes & Amazon w/ Range 15

Right-click here to download the MP3

We all hear that self-distribution is the future for indie filmmakers. Build an audience and make a film for that audience but finding real-world examples of a “true” indie film breaking $1,000,000+ using that model is tough. Well, I’m happy to introduce you to Range 15, the indie film that not only made $1 million selling on iTunes and Amazon but generated $3 million+ to date, and growing.

Today’s guest is Nick Palmisciano, one of the writers, producers, and actors in Range 15. His story of how this crazy indie film came into the world is truly inspiring.

Nick and Mat Best, his co-producer/writer/lead of Range 15, had a crazy idea to create a feature film for the communities they had built up over the years. They are both military veterans and own the military-themed apparel companies Ranger Rp and Article 15 Clothing, respectively.

They wanted to make a film that the military community would enjoy and they did just that.

They crowdfunded $1.2 million to make the film. Their goal was $350,000 but they made that in the first 30 hours of the campaign. With the extra cash, they were able to get William Shatner, Keith David, Sean Astin, and Danny Trejo to join the cast.

As you can tell from the videos above Nick and the gang don’t take themselves too seriously but what is serious is how much dinero Range 15 has pulled in. For an indie film with no studio and no distributor to break $3 million bucks is a miracle. My hats off to the cast and crew of Range 15.

Nick and the boys also produced a remarkable documentary on the making of Range 15 called Not a War Story. It’s starting to get buzz around Hollywood.

Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Nick Palmisciano.

Alex Ferrari 1:09
Guys, I am so excited to bring you this episode. I've been chasing this guest for almost a year now. And it was just we couldn't get our schedules, right. And it was always always something going on. It was just really tough, tough to just nail down a time that we both could do this. And we finally did it. As promised in Episode 166. Today's guest is Nick Palmisciano, from the indie film miracle called range 15. Now Nick and his compadres put together $1,000,001.2 million film that went on. And by the way, they crowdfunded that $1.2 million. And we're going to discuss how he did that, because he's never made a movie, nor anybody on the team, really, that put this whole thing together. I've never made a movie acted in a movie or written a movie. And they decided just to go out there and do it, raise the money and go, and they crowdfunded that budget. And then not only did they crowdfund the budget, and they self distributed it through distributor, and they went straight to iTunes, and Amazon. And they have, according to Nick have made over $3 million to date and counting. And that's only been around a year old, that is in sane, in sane for a horror comedy zombie flick, as I quote Nick to go on, and not only make that amount of money, they were able to break the top 10 of I have all of iTunes competing with the studios. And they actually got all the way to number two, on iTunes. Only Angry Birds beat them. I mean, come on, seriously, you can beat Angry Birds, but and I know that will drive Nick crazy for the rest of his life. But they got to number two. And the studio's even started taking notice like Who are these guys? How do they get up there? What is this movie, because the top 10 of iTunes is generally, you know, held for the studios 400 $200 million movies. But these guys were beating Batman vs. Superman, and just big monster studio temple films. And I wanted to get him on the show so he could share his story on how the whole project came together, how they crowdfunded it, their journeys through Hollywood, because they're not from Hollywood, in the distribution game and the crazy stories and meetings they had with distributors, and then finally getting to distributor and getting their movies through distributor to iTunes, and Amazon, and what both of those platforms did for the film and continues to do for the film. And also the ancillary products that they've sold, t shirts, blu rays, DVDs, posters, and so on. And guys, I mean, they just an inspiration, Nick and the team that they put together range 15 is an inspiration of understanding Your market and making a product for that market or that community, as opposed to making a movie, then going out and trying to find a community to sell it to, or a customer to sell it to, they knew their customer and built something for their customers. This is business 101. So, without any further ado, I want you to enjoy and please take notes and get ready to be inspired by Nick from range 15. I like to welcome to the show Nick Palmisciano how about Palmisciano?

Nick Palmisciano 5:33
Palmisciano

Alex Ferrari 5:34
Palmisciano. Thank you, brother. Appreciate it. So thanks, man, we've been we've been playing phone tag or email tag for for a long time now probably months, if not almost a year. So I really appreciate us finally connecting and having you on the show, man.

Nick Palmisciano 5:49
Yeah, man. It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:51
So Nick, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background. So the audience kind of gets to know who you are and where you came from.

Nick Palmisciano 5:57
Sure. kind of grew up all over the place. My dad was a Vietnam veteran that ended up working for for the military as a as a do D civilian for a long time. So grew up in Italy, and kind of have been just about everywhere at this point. When went to high school in Massachusetts, so I'm a diehard Patriots fan. So apologize for all of you out there that you know hate us.

Alex Ferrari 6:21
And I'm a very I'm a very sad dolphin fan. So I've been sad for 30 it's been it's been been sad for about 30 odd years.

Nick Palmisciano 6:31
Well, you guys used to kill us when I was a kid. So I refreshing to be on the other side when Marina was around. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 6:39
Okay. Anyway, Marina was around, we'll keep talking.

Nick Palmisciano 6:43
I went to West Point. And after West Point, became an infantry officer, which I, which I did for six years, got out of the military, went to grad school, got the corporate job, and felt very empty, and started a little hobby on the side just to kind of keep my connection to the to the military community. And that was the apparel company that I now run called Ranger up. And it's been 11 years now, believe it or not, since I started that hobby, and we've been able to do incredible things. Since then, most recently, we teamed up with our friends at article 15 and other military clothing company and we launched a movie called range 15.

Alex Ferrari 7:28
And we'll get and we'll get all into range 15 in a little bit.

Nick Palmisciano 7:33
And then after that, a documentary about that film called not a war story. And so that is the 62nd version of my life is a lot lots of travel, joining the military, got a job and then started a hobby that became my real life's work.

Alex Ferrari 7:52
No, No, no Ranger up is is not like a little company anymore. Right? I mean, this is substantial apparel company.

Nick Palmisciano 8:00
Yeah, yeah. It's, you know, we've we've, I think, I think we crossed like, we crossed seven figures, like, seven years ago. Yeah, we're, yeah, we're pretty, you know, we're we saw a lot of T shirts.

Alex Ferrari 8:13
That's awesome.

Nick Palmisciano 8:15
Now, it's weird because people don't realize how many t shirts you have to sell.

Alex Ferrari 8:21
I think it's a seven figure number. No, it's a massive.

Nick Palmisciano 8:24
I wish we were selling like battleships. You know, we sold one battleship we're good for the year would be preferable?

Alex Ferrari 8:31
Exactly. Now, tell me the story of how and why you launched a YouTube channel.

Nick Palmisciano 8:38
Yeah, so, you know, I think people that are starting companies now are growing up in a world where Facebook and social media and Instagram and all those things are just the norm. When when I started Ranger up Facebook existed, but you could only the only reason I had Facebook was because I went to grad school at Duke University.

Alex Ferrari 9:05
Right? It was college only

Nick Palmisciano 9:06
I remember that. It wasn't even college only at that point. It was like a like, you know, quote, unquote, elite colleges. You know, I started with Harvard. And they added a couple more than they added a couple more. So, you know, almost nobody was on Facebook, certainly nobody that, you know, was super interested in what we were doing. So I wrote a lot of articles for blogs and did a lot of stuff that was very popular back in the day, you know, kind of these different networking sites. And then, you know, Facebook started started becoming a thing. And I was like, Oh, it's, you know, kind of makes it easy to share content. And this was like 2007 2008 and I had been making videos like my entire life, you know, I made I made funny videos with you know, two VCRs when I was in the military, you know, when I was a kid I made, you know, highlight videos and joke videos, you know, for, like my wrestling team. So I've always kind of had a passion for film. And, and even when I was at Duke University, we had a, we had a show called fuchal vision that was very similar to like a, like a really bad Saturday Night Live focused on, you know, Duke life. And I spent, like, more time doing that than I did, you know, academics, and I'm not, I'm not saying that as like a joke. I mean, I really spent more time, you know, in the, in the editing room, right, and I did working on class. So, you know, I've always had a passion for film, and all of a sudden, I had this medium where, you know, we could come up with content, and you could easily share it, and you know, and back then, when everyone, all this kind of stuff started, you know, if you if you got a couple 1000 views, that was huge, like, wow, you know, a few 1000 people watching my stuff,

Alex Ferrari 10:57
That's huge. It's like, everyone think looks at like, Oh, I gotta, you have to get a million views, like 2000 people is a lot of

Nick Palmisciano 11:04
A lot, right? when you really think about it. And so, you know, back then it was just like, well, this is a cool way to kind of, you know, do something fun, engage, you know, with, with like minded people, and, and no one else was doing this, like, you know, we were the first military apparel brand, you know, before us, you you could buy like skulls, shirts, and, you know, skulls with snakes wrapped around from above, and that kind of stuff, but nobody had made it cool. And so, you know, we created this whole industry. Now, there's 30 something brands in the industry. And then we were the first to start creating content, you know, and we didn't come out with tough guy content, it was always funny, you know, it was like, I've always felt that the toughest dudes never take themselves too seriously. You know, so like, if you've got a bunch of military guys, and they're just trying to tell you how tough they are. Like, they probably aren't that tough. The dudes that I knew that were truly bad asses. Were never sitting around talking about themselves, they were talking about other things that had nothing to do with the military, or they were talking about training, they were never just sitting around going. I'm the baddest, so I'm so good. And so good. You know. And so, you know, when people do that, I kind of instantly start raising an eyebrow, when somebody's spending a lot of time telling you how tough they are. So we never wanted to do that. We we just created a lot of funny stuff. And like, one of the first videos we did was called the Ranger up workout video where it starts off and you think it's gonna be serious. And then, you know, everybody's in super short shorts. And it's, it's not it's not remotely a workout. And, you know, it became like, a huge success, you know, you know, at the time, big numbers, you know, hundreds of 1000s of people watched it. And

Alex Ferrari 12:57
That's still big numbers, by the way, I would kill for that.

Nick Palmisciano 13:02
Not Not as much anymore. But back then it was huge. Right? But yeah, it was wild. So and so, you know, we kind of started committing to doing this more and more, and we got better at it better at creating content, you know, start investing in equipment. And, you know, fast forward 11 years, you know, we're coming off making two movies with our with our buddies from article 15. So it's been a wild ride.

Alex Ferrari 13:25
So and then how So basically, you It's okay, for the audience to understand you understood who your market was, the niche that you were trying to go after, then you started creating content for that niche and building that audience up. And I'm assuming that was to help you connect with your audience and sell more product.

Nick Palmisciano 13:44
Yes, so I've got a weird I've got a weird outlook on all this stuff. And, you know, I don't want to try to I'm not trying to sound like a holier than thou dude or anything. Sure. I do not. I don't love apparel. Like I have no passion for apparel. I didn't want to sell t shirts, because I just love t shirts. Right? I really like the community. And when I left the military, it was very bittersweet. You know, there's never, I don't know anybody that that is worthwhile that left the military and was like, just 100%. Yes. I'm so glad I'm out. Almost always. It's I'm glad I'm out for these reasons. But I missed the guys. I missed the camaraderie and I missed the mission. And I fell into that category. And so I wanted to connect. And so yeah, I created, I created t shirts, I wrote articles. And I tried to build a community where there wasn't one before. You know, when you get out, you're kind of isolated. You go from having all of these friends around you with shared values to you go back to wherever it is you're from, or you go to some new place and now you're alone. And a lot of people have problems with that. And so I wanted to build a virtual community with Ranger to just keep people connected, like in the back of my head, I was like, Yeah, yeah, I might make a few few 1000 extra bucks doing this. But, you know, I had a big time corporate job. And, you know, there was no real thought to leaving that in order to sell t shirts.

Alex Ferrari 15:17
It doesn't make a lot. It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Nick Palmisciano 15:20
Yeah. And I'll be honest, you know, when I decided to do it, there is nobody. I mean, like, literally no one in my life, it didn't look at me like I was an idiot.

Alex Ferrari 15:29
Right? Right. That's generally the I don't know, I would agree. If you if I, if you were in my life, and you said the same thing. I'm like, maybe. But you know, it's still it's still a pretty big risk, but a pretty big jump.

Nick Palmisciano 15:44
Yeah, it was, it was it was kind of a crazy moment. And I did it. I did it because I found out I was getting promoted. Oh, and the rate, and the raise was going to be about 100k. And, and I was, you know, at that point, barely over 30. Right. And so I'm sitting there going, like, if I take this job, I will never get out, I will never do anything else. Because the money is going to be too good. I will never be able to take the risk. And so I found out on a Friday that, that I was getting promoted and gave my notice on a Monday after thinking about it for the weekend.

Alex Ferrari 16:23
That's that's pretty amazing. And so basically your audience, well, let me ask you, how important is your audience, the building been to your business as a general statement? incredibly important,

Nick Palmisciano 16:35
You know, that? My audience is my business? You know, there's there is nothing else like yeah, there. You know, there are people you know, that buy our stuff that have no idea who we are, you know, don't don't really care about the values we have they just like the shirt like, absolutely, and that you're always gonna have that. But you know, I think the majority of our customers, you know, buy from us not just because we sell a quality product, but because they believe in the ethos,

Alex Ferrari 17:01
Right of what your of your community have, basically, the more the values of your community that you've built up. Yes, absolutely. So then what made you decide to finally go into the crazy world of full blown filmmaking and make a feature film?

Nick Palmisciano 17:17
So really, really, interestingly, you know, I've, in 2009, I did my first real interview with Ranger up. And in that interview, which, which went to a Fort Bragg newspaper, I said, you know, someday I want to, I want this company to be big enough, where we can do feature film and affect policy. And get laughed at a lot for that, like, I actually saved some of the comments, because, you know, people were like, stick to T shirts, you know, like, Are you kidding me? You're gonna do movies, like, how are you going to do that? You know. And so then fast forward, you know, to 2014 and Jared Taylor, from article 15, called me up and was like, Hey, man, like, I'm working on this project, like, I had this idea about doing a movie. And I want you to see the script and tell me what you think. So he sends me the script. And I thought, I thought it was a great concept. I was laughing the whole time. And I made a bunch of notes. Like, I probably sent him, you know, four pages of like, alternative dialogue or ideas or whatever. And so, you know, and he calls me He's like, so you know, so You liked it? I was like, Yeah, man, this is really cool. Like, if, you know, if you make this a little more military here, and that, you know, and, like, this could be really, really funny. And he was like, how about we do this together? I was like, yep, let's do it. Amen. And so at that point, you know, Jared, and I became the, you know, we started formed a company to do this film, and, you know, became the CO managers of, of, you know, creating range. 15. And, man, I, like neither of us really had any idea what we were signing up for. Hardest, the hardest professional accomplishment of my entire life. Oh, yeah. That was dragging this movie across the finish line.

Alex Ferrari 19:22
Oh, yeah.

Nick Palmisciano 19:24
And, you know, we thought the hard part was going to be the script, you know, because, you know, the script took months and months and months to get right. And we were, you know, we argued about it and, you know, knockout drag out fights, and you know, but ultimately, we ended up with a better script as a result. And we were fortunate I didn't realize how many people in Hollywood actually end up kind of, you know, breaking up as friends over Oh, creative.

Alex Ferrari 19:51
Every I mean, I've had it's happened to me it's happened multiple people I know it that's generally the way it goes.

Nick Palmisciano 19:58
Yeah, it's interesting because In the military, we're so used to like the the culture of the military is, you're supposed to fight the fight, like if you believe something, you're supposed to fight it. And then once it's resolved, whether you got your way or not, everybody's supposed to drop it like that is the culture that we have where it makes sense. You know, if if you don't fight the fight, you're not you're doing a disservice to the men, you're doing a disservice to yourself. And you're, you know, and you're, you're being cowardly. But, you know, but once it's decided, you either get on board or you go away. And so that's just so you know, we'd have these fights, and then at the end of the night, you know, we'd be sharing a beer or something like it never, it never stayed. And so that was one of the things our director found really interesting is that we would have these, like, you know, pretty aggressive conversations, like, everybody would be fine. And he just did, he kept waiting for the ball to drop,

Alex Ferrari 20:56
Right here, because that's, that's our training, and our, in our business. That's exactly when you see stuff like that I'm like, this is gonna blow up at any moment. And the whole thing's gonna come crashing to a halt or down, and we're not gonna be able to finish this movie.

Nick Palmisciano 21:08
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it was just, it's just the way that we were all used to kind of acting that, you know, it worked out. So we thought the script was going to be the challenge. And then we thought, you know, raising money was going to be the challenge. You know, we couldn't get money from Hollywood, for obvious reasons. You know, like, we had, you know, none of us had made a movie, none of us had written a movie was had acted in a film, you know, there were, there was no reason for Hollywood to give us money. So we went to Indiegogo. And, you know, we were just hoping, hey, if we got 350k, then, you know, Ranger up an article 15 could kick in another, you know, a few $100,000. And we could get, we get make a small, you know, half $1,000,000.06 $100,000 movie, and it'd be cool. And then, you know, we ended up raising, you know, just shy of 1.2 million on Indiegogo. And I was able to bring in a bunch of other sponsors.

Alex Ferrari 22:05
Yeah, can you? Let me let me stop you there for a second. All right. So you crowd. So when you start a crowdfunding on Indiegogo, you basically went out to your audience, and then you told your audience, hey, this is what we're doing. And they responded, much better than you can ever have dreamed of.

Nick Palmisciano 22:21
Yeah, I mean, I did think we were going to get the 350 I thought we were going to grind it out and get to 350. But not in my wildest dreams that I think we were gonna cross 350 in 30 hours. That's insane. You know, it was insane.

Alex Ferrari 22:35
That was the power of your audience. That was the power of the connection you made with your audience.

Nick Palmisciano 22:39
Yeah, you know, it's, we, it was very, we planned that, you know, surgically, like how we executed that. You know, we, first of all, you know, we had just watched super troopers to raise 4 million. Right. And we, we modeled a lot of what we did after super troopers, you know, because they had, they had created an effective model for doing that. And then, you know, Jared, and I reached out to lots of different, you know, supportive websites, supportive audiences. So it wasn't just, it wasn't just Ranger up in Article 15. It was also the ancillary characters in both of our companies. So Matt best on his social media, Tim Kennedy on his social media, but then also, we were able to enlist, you know, friends like other other personalities, you know, military supporters, Medal of Honor recipients, and we had it all staggered, so that, you know, every, you know, six hours, somebody new was that had a large audience was posting it, which kept it very fresh on Facebook. And so, you know, and then then it kind of took on a life of its own, you know, it went over, went over 350. And then Marcus Luttrell, you know, I had a, I had a small relationship with Marcus Luttrell, from a previous event, you know, we weren't tight, tight or anything like that. But I had his contact info. I reached out to him, you know, asked if he might be interested. And he did a little video that said, Hey, you know, if I'll be in this movie, if it goes over, you know, a half a million dollars, and he posts that video. And then like, a day later, we're over a half a million dollars and, like, it just it just kept going and going and going. And that was when we started. were like, Oh, we have a real movie now. And our director said, Look, you know, you you guys know have the budget to actually bring in some actors, right? You know, not just not just you know, you guys and you know, in some some You know, working actors and I say that with absolutely no disrespect to shares, a lot of times working actors are truly the best actors.

Alex Ferrari 25:07
Marquee, marquee value actors and other organs.

Nick Palmisciano 25:09
Yeah. And so I started writing letters, in particular, like I really wanted William Shatner to be in the movie. I just, I'm not, it's not like I'm a huge Trekkie, or anything like that, but I really loved him as, as Denny crane in Boston Legal. Yeah. And he quietly does a lot of stuff for the military, he doesn't make a huge deal out of it. And I just thought it would be absolutely epic, if we got William Shatner. So we all had, we all had kind of like our dream list. You know, everybody wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger, everybody wanted Stallone, you know, that would have been amazing. But those guys are, they're a little busy.

Alex Ferrari 25:49
Just a little bit a little bit, you know,

Nick Palmisciano 25:51
But but even Shatner, we didn't think we're gonna get them. And he, you know, he got the letter that I wrote him and he said, you know, no one's ever sent me a letter like this before. And, you know, I might, I might be making a mistake, but I'm going to do it. And he came out and he did it. And once he signed on, it was it was magical. So as soon as everybody else was interested, you know, then it was a real movie. And nobody, nobody wants to be the first of the party. That's the way it works. And the Tao No, because, you know, if you've seen the movie, you know, we really went for it. It's dark. It's very inappropriate. So, you know, people were worried about their careers, you know? And, you know, so I want to say, I want to say we got, let's see, we started with William Shatner, then Randy Couture, who's a friend said he would do it. And then Keith, David signed on love Keith, man. And then Sean Ashton actually called us. So imagine, you know, imagine your art director and a, your phone rings, and it's like, Hey, this is Sean asked, and I was wondering if I could be in your movie. And like, you know, Ross was like, you know, sure, like, call my call. But I'm pretty sure the guys are gonna be thrilled. Let me check with the guys. And so, Jared and I on a conference call, and he's like, hey, Sean asked and just called and he wants to be in the movie. And I was like, samwise gamgee. Don't ask, like, Is there a new like, up and coming? Sean asked? No, no. samwise samwise? gamgee? Like, yeah. And that was that right there is when I became a hero to my children. Yeah. There's a Lord of the Rings generation they're not Star Wars kids or Lord of the Rings kids, that Sam was in the in the movie. So and then then it just got crazy man, like, people couldn't believe the cast we had, we couldn't believe the cast we had.

Alex Ferrari 28:02
Yep. And entities in a decent budget, a very decent budget, I mean, budget for what you guys were trying to do, because you guys that you guys went for it. We went for what but you did a fantastic job for what for the budget you had, it looks awesome.

Nick Palmisciano 28:15
Look, really the budget we had and the time we had, I'm very proud of what we pulled off.

Alex Ferrari 28:21
Now. Can you talk? Can you talk a little bit about how the sponsors worked? And how did you incorporate them in your information.

Nick Palmisciano 28:28
So I went to sponsors exclusively that had ties to the military community, or it supported the military community in the past. So you know, instead of going for, you know, kind of big marquee names, you know, for like, the energy drink, you know, we went we went to kill cliff, which is, which is, you know, they're a sizable company now. But they're, you know, they're, they're a veteran owned navy seal, owned company. You know, that, it makes a really great energy drink. And, you know, it's, it's designed for, like, the CrossFit kind of athletic community, it's not as heavy like, you know, if you drink a Red Bull or something, sometimes that can be on the heavier side, you know, you don't want to drink a Red Bull and then sprint. Right. And I love Red Bull, but, you know, you just, there's certain things you do and don't do with it. Whereas, you know, with kill cliff, it's, you can, you can drink it and then work out. Gotcha. And, and so, you know, ask them if they want it to be involved, and they surprise the hell out of me by coming in big they wanted to. They wanted to come in and, like, be the cure. That was like, that's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 29:39
Okay, so this was product. So this was product placement. Yeah. Nice. Okay. So you created a, you went after your, again, so I'm just trying to break it down for the audience. You have an audience that you know, you're your niche audience. You go after niche companies within that audience or that community. Have those guys proud. placed inside your movie, which helps raise the budget of the movie, obviously and give you a better product. Yes, that's, it's, it's, it's it's so amazing yet, it seems like it's it's genius, but it seems so logical.

Nick Palmisciano 30:13
Yeah, you know, it's just the it's not even, I don't even want to take credit for having some kind of strategic magical vision. It's more like, these are the people we like and trust, you know, North American rescue is, you know, is a veteran owned company that also happens to be, you know, the largest supplier of like emergency metal medical products, you know, in the world, like Gnar saves more lives than any other company. So, like, if you are carrying a tourniquet, you know, odds are, you're carrying a cat tourniquet made by Gnar if you're carrying, you know, if you have like a nice, you know, emergency health kit in your car, or in your house, it's probably made by Gnar gotcha. These these guys came in, you know, and they wanted to, you know, they wanted to get the cat tourniquet placed in a few places. So like when, you know, the Medal of Honor recipient, Leroy Petri, you know, he had actually lost his arm in combat, and was saved by someone applying a cat tourniquet to him. So in the movie as a joke, like we blow off the other arm. Yeah, like, you know, with a terrible pr stetic like it's so over the top. But, and then we, you know, he gets a cat tourniquet applied to it by another Medal of Honor recipient, right. Which is also crazy. We had you know, we this is the most decorated movie ever made. And it's a zombie flick right? There's no movie history itself that has had more military muscle in it than then this film.

Alex Ferrari 31:48
Yeah. Wow. That's, that's insane. Now, so yeah, you get the movies done. you've edited the movie. It's all finished. Now you're like, Okay, we're gonna try to sell this thing. Well, what do you do you go to obviously traditional distributors. But what was your experience talking to traditional experience distributors? I was not good. It was not good. Can you tell me like an example of one conversation?

Nick Palmisciano 32:11
Just Yes. So people my favorite my favorite conversation was that these guys wanted us to reshoot the movie with john Claude Van Damme. Okay. He's like this. This is a this is a funny concept. They wanted to replace Matt best. Right?

Alex Ferrari 32:31
Who's the star? Who's the star of the film? Right? with john Claude Van Damme, but you've already have a movie. It's done have a movie. We have a movie. It's done. But they're like, no, let's reshoot the whole thing. Let's reshoot it with john Claude Van Damme. Did they offer you money for this?

Nick Palmisciano 32:45
Yes. Okay. And it was it was just comical. And then another another one wanted us they wanted to buy the film. I want to say it was like 350k or 500k or something. And and then they wanted to put us into another movie. As like the the they were a small firm so it wasn't like we were going to they sound like they wanted to buy it and put us in Transformers they wanted to buy buy put us in like an even worse be flick right? Oh, that was completely you know uncreative. But behind a known act or not a big actor, but like somebody that you marquee value that you Yeah, that has some marquee value. Yeah. And, you know, we were like, no, like we can, we can sell, we can sell the movie for more than a half a million dollars just by putting it on iTunes and Amazon. And they're like, no, like, everybody thinks that, but it doesn't work that way. And we're like, No, we like we know our community like we want 100% we'll, we'll get that back. And basically, everybody just kind of everybody just acted like we got really lucky. And maybe we did. You know, maybe we did get a little lucky. I mean, I understand that a lot of people that really know what they're doing. have been have failed at this. But I think one of the things that that people do, I think out of order, is they try to create a film and find an audience. Right. Whereas we we had an audience and created a film for that audience. I think I think there's a big difference. That's the future. Now.

Alex Ferrari 34:32
I think that's the future of independent filmmaking in general.

Nick Palmisciano 34:34
100% agree, I think I think we just gave everybody the blueprint for how you should make an independent film. Not that there aren't other ways to do it. I'm definitely not I'm not trying to pretend like we came up with some amazing thing. But hey, again, who are we like we're no one know how, you know? We are not household names. No one, you know, no one knows who we are. If you're not in the military community, but I can tell you that we're the only independent film in history to ever top the charts on Amazon, and that's from Amazon.

Alex Ferrari 35:09
So yeah, so before we get to that, what what made you want to go with distributor? Because distributor was the final company you decide to self distributor film with, right? Yeah,

Nick Palmisciano 35:17
Yeah. Talk to a lot of different people, you know, get a lot of different feedback. And, you know, there's some other Okay, companies out there, but Nick Saurus gave me some, some pretty significant time, he's their president, because he just kind of, he just told me his story. He's like, Look, man, like, I made film, you know, I made film, I made successful film. And somehow, like, I would make a film, and it would make a lot of money. And I would get none of that money. Over and over again, like, he's, like, I ended up upside down on, you know, half my films, and, you know, other films, I made, like, a little bit of money. And but but there was all this money being made. And I was sitting there going, like, what's, you know, what is the motivation to do something only to like, hand it over to other people who are going to, you know, take all of the all of the profit from it, and throw scraps at me, like, that's not how you get independent filmmakers, you know, to thrive, you know, and, you know, and Nick and I have had a lot of, you know, conversations about this, you know, China now pretty much phones, the film industry. And I'm not saying that in a bad way, like, you know, okay, Business is business and they, you know, they are, these multinational companies have bought most of the major production houses in Hollywood now. But the result of that is, they are going to build film that is going to sell on an international scale, not film that is necessarily interesting or good. You know, like, you're gonna make trend transformers and Fast and the Furious movies forever. And there's nothing wrong with those. I'm not sitting here judging like, you know, Fast and the Furious eight, like, you know, watch it. No, and it's entertaining. But I don't want to just watch Fast and the Furious eight. And I feel like that is the direction we're heading. And I think if I think there are going to be very few production company, major production company films that are interesting. In the future, the trend is definitely more towards, you know, very cliche, action packed films.

Alex Ferrari 37:35
Yeah, for every baby driver. There's 45 transformers. Yes, basically. Yes. You know, and I haven't seen baby driver yet. But I hear it's, I can't believe that made in the studio system. You know, it's like, oh, my God, how did that happen? But yeah, atomic blonde is another one. I can't wait to see.

Nick Palmisciano 37:53
Yeah. You know, it was great was a Ex Machina. That was a great film.

Alex Ferrari 37:58
Oh, yeah. Exactly like that.

Nick Palmisciano 38:00
Yeah, that was a great film. And, you know, I don't think that ever saw theaters, or if it did, like, I didn't know about it.

Alex Ferrari 38:06
It did, but it was very small. Very small. Yeah.

Nick Palmisciano 38:09
Yeah, I found that on. I found it on iTunes. It was like I'm flicking through things, like, want to watch a new movie. And it was like, Oh, what's this? And I stared at it for like three weeks. It was like, Man, this thing is not falling off the, you know, the top charts. Like I finally bought it. I was like, Man, this movie is awesome. Yeah. And so you know, but how do you how do you get those films out there? If you're somebody like us, like, you know, you almost couldn't do it before. And so, you know, with the stripper, I felt like I had a guy that actually cared about, you know, he's not going to do the work for me. I mean, at the end of the day, like, doesn't matter what your distribution is, like, if your movie sucks, you're not going to, you're not going to get anywhere. If you don't have an audience, you're not going to get anywhere. But I felt like he gave me a very fair way of putting my film in a situation where it could succeed. And that's the most that you can hope for, you know, from a distributor. Right? So, yeah, so, you know, I had no issues with distributor, they did a great job with everything, you know, they, anytime there was any kind of issue, they addressed it immediately, like they raised issues to me to like, improve the way that our our film was going to be viewed. Like it was a great experience. I'll definitely use them again.

Alex Ferrari 39:23
Now with Can you talk a little bit about the release strategy of interesting like, did you go all through iTunes? First to kind of get the ranking up? How can you can you talk a little bit about that?

Nick Palmisciano 39:34
No, we, we did iTunes and Amazon at the same time, okay. But we, frankly, we just didn't know what we were doing. So we felt we felt like iTunes was going to be bigger. Because, you know, an iTunes also shares more of the profit with you. You know, like, I've had iTunes forever and so you know, at And as has Jared, and so there's a little bit of a bias to what you know. And so we've we thought, you know, iTunes is going to be the bigger one. And Amazon would be like a distant second. And actually, it was quite the opposite. And so I mean, iTunes did very well, don't get me wrong, I think I iTunes the first week beat Amazon. But that was the last time it beat Amazon. And helium, the different. Yeah, the difference there is the platform. So with Apple, we were just in, we were in also ran, like, we were just, we were another product in their system. You know, even even though we went all the way to number two on the charts, and we lost the Angry Birds on iTunes, which they supported big time, because they're, you know, they're film. But even though we, even though we were number two on the charts for 11 days, nobody from Apple ever reached out and said, you know, can we, you know, can we get some graphics? Could we do can, you know, can we pump this hope? Nobody pumped it, nobody pushed it, nobody did anything like it went, it went to number two, sat there for over a week. And then, you know, started coming down. And, you know, it stayed in the top 25 for, you know, I think a month and a half. And, I mean, like it did very well, but like there was no, there was no like movement, you know, we just kind of got ignored, and that's fine. Like, I'm not there's no judgment there. But with with Amazon, actually had I had breakfast with two Amazon executives, when I was out there for not a war story talking about, you know, our, you know, how we're going to launch that with Amazon as well at some point. But they were hilarious. They're like, Look, man, here's the truth. We woke up, we checked the dailies, and we see this movie, range 15 that's, you know, over, you know, Batman versus Superman and over divergence, and we called it because we thought we either got hacked, there was or there was some error in our system that needed to be fixed. And, and then when we realized, you know, oh, this is real, like, people are actually buying this movie. They, you know, they had low man on the totem pole, go and Google it and figure out who the hell we were. Because they had no idea who we were. And then they reached out to us. So this is all within 24 hours of being on their site. And he reached out to us and it was their executive vice president, it wasn't just somebody. And he was like, Look, you know, you've got lightning in a bottle here. Like, we want to push it, here's what we need. And they gave us a bunch of sizes that they needed to explore. And, you know, we made those graphics within an hour had the backs them, the next day, they were up on the site, and you know, and they're still talking to us, like, Oh, you know, hey, we've got Veterans Day coming up, we could do this, that or the other thing, like those guys know how to Amazon knows how to sell better than anybody on the planet. Ever. That's true, that is very true. But everybody else is in distance second. So these guys, you know, they have a product, people want it, they want more people to buy it. And they're they're incredibly easy to work with. So

Alex Ferrari 43:31
So then so a lot of the a lot of the traction you got on Amazon was strictly because at the beginning, you got a big push from your audience, but then they just saw it and they decided to move with move on it and help you. So yeah, by them helping you It definitely kept the revenue coming in high because your profile went up.

Nick Palmisciano 43:48
But But even now, even now, you know, like they were they're laughing they're like, they cannot believe how many people are still buying the film. You know, they said like, like, films, uh, you know, it's a year, it's a year from when we launched right now. And, like, you know, you typically at this point, you know, you've got your, you know, maybe three $400 a month come in, and especially for an indie film, we're still, we're still doing 1000s of dollars, you know, on a monthly basis for the movie. So

Alex Ferrari 44:19
That's insane. Yeah, it's really cool. Now, let me really cool. Let me ask you a question. So to even to get up to the top 10 of iTunes is pretty substantial. You need to do some major numbers. Can you talk about sales as far as sales or rentals or transactions? How many do you think that people need to get, you know, to make any sort of traction whatsoever? Is that something you could talk about? So, I don't I don't know exactly how many you have to sell, you know, to give or take to you know, we did you know and that that first was that first month we Did about a million dollars in revenue? In our, our cut, okay, you're just you're Jesus. Wow. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So the movie, so this movie definitely has broken seven figures. Yes. Jesus Christ. Yes. So it's a very successful independent film, to say

Nick Palmisciano 45:36
The least successful independent film. Yeah, we're, you know, we're, like I said, we're very proud of, of the community for, for making this thing happen.

Alex Ferrari 45:45
And it's still go and it's still going people are still finding it.

Nick Palmisciano 45:48
People are still buying it. Still still watching it. You know, and yeah, so, you know, like, it's, it's, you know, it's not, it's not a huge film, but, you know, like, you know, we've done, we've done, you know, a few million bucks on this movie at this point. And, you know, we put some of the money towards, you know, towards the documentary and yeah, it's, it's, you know, and, and we're hoping that that does, you know, frankly, better, we're hoping that that's a that's a bigger film, and in a lot of ways, then the film than the actual movie was so

Alex Ferrari 46:21
So just so they could you said, like, it hasn't done a lot. I guarantee you that everybody listening in this podcast right now would kill to make a million or 2 million or $3 million on their independent film. So it's, it's substantial. I mean, being I've been in the indie business for in the film business for over 20 years, getting close to 25, for God's sakes. And I've rarely heard a story like this. This is a, a unicorn style story. So you should be extremely proud of that I appreciate that's why I want to join the show, when I heard this story, I was like, this does not happen every day. It's very rare. And it's and it's still niche. That's the thing that I find so fascinating about range 15. This is not a movie that blew up into the mainstream, because a lot of indie movies go and they they find their audience and they just kind of blow up and everybody hears about them. range. 15 is still within its niche, very, it's kind of broken out a little bit here and there, maybe in the action genre. But generally speaking, it's still niche. It's still underground.

Nick Palmisciano 47:24
Yeah. And so right now, you know, we're gonna, you know, we're hoping we're either going to end up on on amazon prime, or we're going to end up on Netflix, and I want I want to pair the documentary with the film. I don't want I don't just want range 15 to end up in one of these things. I want both because I think people that watch the documentary and then watch the film will get a better love the film forever. Yeah. People that just watch the film like they either love it or they hate it. But like, you know, with the documentary, people have an appreciation for how hard it really was to get this movie done.

Alex Ferrari 48:03
Got it now. Within how well have the the DVDs and blu rays have been selling a branch with Dan? I'm just curious, because oh, yeah, cuz a lot of people say that DVD and blu rays dead.

Nick Palmisciano 48:14
Now we've sold a ton. And it's interesting, because we've we only have sold them on range. 15 calm. Yeah. And the reason for that is, even though Amazon is really easy to work with on a lot of things, you know, they have a lot of rules to protect the customer. And because we've never because we've never actually sold DVDs before, we need to get like a waiver. And what by the time we realized all of this, this, like, you know how you had to do it, and you know how long it took, and we just didn't have time because the movie was releasing, so we definitely ever put it on Amazon. So we're selling all these DVDs and blu rays off of like, a website that it's literally it's only function is to sell blu rays and DVDs. That's it.

Alex Ferrari 49:07
Yeah. Now, how and how, how did you leverage range 15 to sell other products and create other revenue streams.

Nick Palmisciano 49:17
So, you know, we are in the process of of working on a app right now like a phone game associated with rain 15 we created uh, you know, apparel off of off of rain 15 posters off of rain 15 You know, we're in that business already. So, you know, we both own apparel companies infrastructure was easy to put it into your into your product into your into your pipeline. Yep. And, you know, and, you know, when you look at the other guy's, you know, Rocco, Jared and Matt own, you know, led slingers, whiskey, which was the other part of the cure, you know, in the film, and you You know, so now for all time, you know, their whiskey is, is in this, you know, cult military movie, you know, and so everything, you know, we are, you know, we are meatheads, and we are, you know, to some extent, you know, clowns. But you know, we really kind of planned all this out so that, like everybody would win long term all these people that, you know, all these people that came and supported us all of the the sponsors that came in, like I really want these people to all win win for all time, you know, because they supported this film. Wow.

Alex Ferrari 50:39
Now, can you talk a little bit about not in other words, not not a war story, the documentary behind it?

Nick Palmisciano 50:44
Yeah, absolutely. So it started off as a, we were gonna do a short that we just included on a DVD. And I asked is this guy Tim O'Donnell? So earlier, we talked about, you know, the first silly video that we ever made the Ranger up workout video. That was nine years ago. And Tim O'Donnell is the guy that I hired to do that, you know, he and I met at a UFC fight. He was an art teacher. And he had just, he had just made his first documentary on the side about a wrestler that he had coached. And we were there, because I was sponsoring a fighter by the name of Jorge Rivera. And he was doing a short about Jorge. And he didn't have a lot of commercial work at the time. And so he thought to be, you know, I thought it'd be cool to do some funny videos with us. And so, you know, I think, man, I think that first, the first paycheck for like, a whole weekend, I think he, I think we paid him like 1500 bucks, and he paid like seven videos, you know, like nothing. We weren't big, he wasn't big. And we just had a lot of fun. And so he and I, over the years have made, you know, for pretty significant documentaries, that have won some festival awards. They're just passion projects, you know, to tell stories about veterans. And when we were doing this, you know, I asked, I asked him if he was interested in doing and he was like, Yeah, absolutely. And again, the plan was, he was going to come out for the, you know, come out for a couple sessions, and then come out during filming, and, you know, make a 1015 minute short for the DVD. Two days in, you know, he, he took Jared and I aside and he was like, Guys, I don't think this is a short. I think I think this is a feature film, I'm getting gold, you know, the interviews with all the bats that are here, you know, is absolute gold, you know, the crises that you guys are constantly dealing with is gold. Like, I think we need to do this. And I was, you know, Jared and I talked about are like, all right, absolutely. Let's do it. And so he and, you know, the second unit director for the documentary, Alex Miller, proceeded to capture, you know, the next year of, you know, everything that happened, you know, the editing, the selling points, the Sundance, selling, going to Iraq, with the film, you know, everything. And we ended up with a film that we think is, you know, and you have to take all of this with a grain of salt, right? In some ways. It's, it's not in any way disrespectful to like the making of ranch 15. But range 15 as you know, is a funny v flick. Not a war story is a really powerful film. far more powerful than I expected, you know, actually watching it, it gave me anxiety because I was reliving the things that had happened. Sure. And that I had forgotten all about, you know, but and, and audiences thus far have loved it. You know, we've done two screenings, one was like a test screening with, you know, 50 people, and we actually purposefully chose the most liberal people we could find. They're all you know, because we wanted them to have like, literally no affiliation with the military. We almost tried to find people that were almost combatants towards the military, to be honest, because I wanted the worst possible experience. Right. Right. And, and, and they loved it. And so and then we had our, you know, our premiere at the Academy of Motion Pictures, arts and sciences, which frankly, was a surreal moment. And that must

Alex Ferrari 54:41
Be a surreal moment.

Nick Palmisciano 54:44
Yeah, standing there, like between two Oscars giving a speech about a movie. And, and it got, you know, pretty universal acclaim out there. And so, you know, we're now in the process of Submitting our application for an Oscar bid. Which, you know, we, we 100% realize is a long shot. But you know, I can't think of a, I can't think of a better win for the community, then as miraculously pulling this stuff pretty insane, like just coming back and saying, guys, like, you know, you did this?

Alex Ferrari 55:25
Are you self distributing it as well? I

Nick Palmisciano 55:28
I don't know yet. You know, and so we've had some great meetings with a lot of people, and we're gonna, we're gonna see what happens. Gotcha, I would I would love for this film to have broader distribution, because whereas range 15 you know, we delivered it, we, you know, we told we told our constituency, we are going to make this movie for you. And so everybody else wanted to change it, they wanted to remove scenes, they wanted to release it on their timeline. And, you know, we we could not do that, like, the community funded the movie, we made a promise to the community, we had to deliver on that promise, with not a war story. I think it's a bigger film in that I've never seen a film that does a better job of bridging the civilian military divide. You get a window into the military community that I think is needed, because it, it humanizes the military. It's very, it's very easy to, to turn veterans into characters, right. And the caricature that most people, you know, convert you to depends on kind of your worldview and where you grew up and how you grew up, either, you know, you think veterans are broken by war. Maybe alcoholics may be suicidal or you think veterans are, you know, perfect white knights with, you know, the moral fiber of like, you know, Sir Lancelot. Yes, thank you. And so, you know, neither of those things is true, right. And, you know, you see very clearly that, like, we're a cross section of society with different goals, different belief systems. But they were, you know, we're a very tight knit community. And we use gallows humor, you know, a lot to kind of, you know, deal with things when things go wrong. You know, there are more jokes, not less. You know, as things get more intense, we tend to get sillier. And that's because that's the way it is in the military. That's what we're accustomed to. Now, all of that is captured, you know, in this film.

Alex Ferrari 57:42
Well, Man, I wish you the best of luck with that film. I can't wait to see it. I really, really want to see it. Now. Do you have another narrative film on the horizon? Are you going to try to do rain? 16? No, I'm joking. But do you have another show on the horizon?

Nick Palmisciano 57:56
So you know, right now, you know, in terms of another group project, I think we'd all like to work together on another major project to sequel at some point. But, you know, literally right now, Matt is, is deep into finishing his book, where he got he got a huge deal with Penguin Books. Nice. And, you know, that's he's got to focus on that. Tim Kennedy. You know, he's on season three of hunting Hitler, and he's about to launch a new show about just, I can't even talk about it. It's a crazy show, where Tim basically almost dies over and over again. Okay. Vince Vargas is going to be on the Mayans. And also has a show coming out on the History Channel. And so the Mayans is the sons Ban archy spin off. Jerry Taylor is doing a reality show called blood on the deck where he is, he is a ship boat captain who has never fished before trying to compete against Dakota Meyer, who's a Medal of Honor recipient on a different boat. And you know, and, and I am, you know, I'm taking not a war story across the finish line. And also pitching a series right now that we are we have, we have four in the can call 22 for 22 which are 22 documentaries. So 22 veterans a day kill themselves. And people I know, it's crazy. And people focus on that number a lot. And what we want to do is we want to tell 22 inspiring stories, try to reclaim that number a little bit 2222 people that have that have faced adversity, and dealt with it and not always one like not always, like, Oh, yeah, you know, things were tough. And then they got incredible, like, sometimes things were tough. And I worked really hard and they're still tough, but they keep moving Yeah. So we want to tell, we want to tell 22 stories of people that are taking it on the chin, and continuing to drive forward to show people that they're not alone. And so that's my, that's my documentary project. And then I am I'm writing a, I'm writing a super dark, super dark movie right now, going a totally different direction from what I did with range 15. And starting to build a team to do that. So that's awesome. That's awesome. So you know, we'll see what happens. like everybody's doing really cool stuff. And the nice thing about this group of guys is, you know, we all support each other, like, you know, I'm hoping Matt, you know, ends up with the New York Times bestseller, I'm hoping Jared ends up with a top Show. I'm hoping Rocco turns into a big star as a result of doing the Mayans, like, you know, it's a cool group of people. And like, everybody's everybody's pushing forward.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:57
Now, can you give, what advice would you have for a filmmaker just starting out in the business?

Nick Palmisciano 1:01:03
So I give the same advice to aspiring filmmakers that I give to aspiring entrepreneurs, and everybody, everybody wants to win? Right out of the gate, you can argue you can argue, you can argue that we did, right? That argument is false. Yeah. You know, it, it took me a decade to build this audience. Yeah. You know, it took the article 15 guys three years to build their audience. And before that, though, you know, before they built their audience, you know, Jared was making videos for four years, Matt was making videos for three years, you know, so, you know, you start with something like you want to be an aspiring you want to make a film, start making films, start making shorts, post those shorts online, build an audience figure out what the audience likes and what they don't like. Sometimes filmmakers, you know, get a little bit up their own butt and they think that they are these, you know, the greatest creative. And, you know, like, I'll be honest with you, like, I watched things like Project Greenlight. Oh, man, I've got to shoot it on film. Like, can I swear on this app? So fucking literally. Like when I watched that dude, get handed $2 million.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:29
Which, let's see which season which season? This was the latest one was the very last one I haven't seen. Yeah, the last one on HBO.

Nick Palmisciano 1:02:37
Yeah, he gets handed, he gets handed $2 million, which is the most they've ever handed.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
Right? Yeah, they've never handed that much out.

Nick Palmisciano 1:02:43
And he's like, I got it. I've got to shoot this whole thing on film. And the producers are like, you know, we really don't think that's a good idea. And like, they go to like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and like, he wants to shoot on film. And they talked to him about the difficulties, but then they're like, well, he wants to do it. So we're gonna let them like, I would have been like, you know what fucker, like, not only know, but like, get the fuck out of here. We're gonna pick someone else. If you're that much of an ass clone, that you don't realize that this project is already going to be so hard. Somebody is handing you $2 million. That isn't your money. Right? And you you're not listening to their advice. Like, you don't need to be in this business. Like, you

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
Don't need to call my friend My friend. You know, that's, that's the majority of people. I mean, it's, it's Yeah, and by the way, a fun little fact, I was in season two of Project Greenlight. Really, I was in the very opening a very small part. That was in the opening sequence of Episode One as one of my entry tapes. Because I made it to like, almost the top 50 of filmmakers into the top 50 that year. Yeah, that's really cool. It was a lot of fun. But those those those stories, I stopped watching them. I couldn't do it anymore, because they're just so just nying at you like something is Yeah, is that like, Dude, are you kidding me? Yeah,

Nick Palmisciano 1:04:02
I did not know the show existed. So after we finished Ross, our director for range 15 was like, you've never seen Project Greenlight. He's like, he's like go watch it. Oh, dude. Oh, watch it. Oh, he's like those guys have been given every opportunity and they still managed to screw it up. And man, I was furious. Like every single time I can't stop watching it though. Because it's like, like, they're all clowns, you know? Yeah, it's the season the season one guy was probably the best

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
And he a he was humble a little humble. Just was in a very ignorant and very ignorant to the process ignorant but humble. Yes, you can you you know. Yeah, you can.

Nick Palmisciano 1:04:45
You can understand somebody not knowing what they're doing. And that's fine. Wow, you can allow for that. Yes. When somebody is cocky and they don't know what they're doing. That's dangerous combination, my friend. Yeah, it's really bad. It's completely $2 million.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:59
He knows And only understandable if you don't know what you're doing. And if you're ignorant and my god that kid was thrown into, I mean, a whirlwind. He had never seen anything like that before. And he was just trying to hold on for dear life. And that's fine. But when you're an ass about it, yes. I mean, yeah, come on. I've

Nick Palmisciano 1:05:17
Gotta make my first movie on film. Dude, are you like I still even now thinking about it? Like it pisses me off? Like,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:24
I mean, I had on the show, Shaun Baker who shot tangerines on the iPhone, the one that that that gets old to Magnolia and went on to be doing things. He's like, dude, I wanted and he, by the way, in the next movie, he shot he shot on. That was his fifth movie. And he chose to shoot on the iPhone for the look, because he could have shot on entity and it was with the duplass brothers and all that stuff. Yeah. But he just went out and did it. He just went out and did it. It's, it's fascinating. And I'm gonna ask you three questions I always ask or two questions, I always ask all my all my guess, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn, whether in the film business or in life, life is not fair. Amen, brother.

Nick Palmisciano 1:06:07
On it Honest to God, like, you know, everybody keeps waiting. People have a belief that, oh, if you just work hard, for a little while, you're, you know, there's this meme that that they post for entrepreneurs, where it's like, you know, entrepreneurs, or people that work, you know, that worked five years, harder than anyone else. So they can live the rest of their lives, like no one else, I don't know, a single entrepreneur that isn't still working his ass off. And I don't care if like, you're a multi millionaire, or billionaire, you know, just starting out now, like, everybody's working, you know, that's the that's the way it is like, the challenges only get harder. And sometimes things happen, and you have no control over it, and they suck and they hurt you. And you know, people lose businesses all the time, or things that they didn't even do. And, you know, life is not fair. And so you just, you can't, when bad things happen. And they will, you cannot sit there and go, you know, Woe is me. You know, this isn't right. But don't you guys understand it happened? Because it is reasons like no one cares. And you have to deal with the now if you don't deal with the now it will get out of control, you will lose control and you will lose, you will lose all you have to deal with reality instead of dealing with what should

Alex Ferrari 1:07:19
I know it's not bitching about what should be a wash? Yeah, I shouldn't be this shouldn't be that as does you no. Good. And now would you agree because you work with I'm sure there's a lot of entrepreneurs after you started, basically the the business that you're in with the T shirts and building up that apparel company, that must have been multiple guys who've come along, trying to replicate and go after it? Well, the one thing and some have done it successfully, which is fine, which is fine. I mean, that's part of the business, you want to have a bigger, you want to have 100 guys, so the industry is much larger. But do you find it and I find this I find this quote from Eric Thomas, I don't know if you know who Eric Thomas is. He's a motivational speaker. They call Yeah, I don't, I do not know him, but I'll look them up. They call him the hip hop preacher. Because he works with the he works with the Patriots. He works with a lot of NFL a lot of end goal guys and stuff. He says this is this quote, which I thought was so great. He's like, you can't love the goal. You got to be in love with the grind. The process the grind you've got because if you're in love with the goal, you'll never make it you've got to be in love with that day to day, ball busting got to get the job done. No matter what situation whether being a filmmaker or an entrepreneur, is that it would you be in agreement? That's 100% true. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time? Oh, that's always that's always obviously interesting. But no.

Nick Palmisciano 1:08:53
So let's let's try to kind of break it down. I'm not going to try to go for anything like super heavy and like, oh, look how many great films I've watched. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:03
Citizen Kane, Casa Blanca. I'm joking.

Nick Palmisciano 1:09:06
I do I do really like Casa Blanca. Who does? That would be that would be disingenuous. Casa Blanca. Oh, amazing. recent film that I really love is a card.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:19
That was a great flick man. Good flick. I

Nick Palmisciano 1:09:21
I love that love that film. I probably watched a Korea 1314 times because I love the way he shoots it. I love the feel of it. And I love the no nonsense like, like, you know no nonsense way that the characters kind of deal with life. So really enjoying that film? I love Rushmore. That's a good am I gonna say it's one of the best three films of all time. I

Alex Ferrari 1:09:48
I don't know. To you. It's not it's not it's not a list for everybody else's lips to you.

Nick Palmisciano 1:09:53
Yeah, I think I think Rushmore is is a great flick. I personally certainly think it's Wes Anderson's best. I know a lot of people disagree with that. But oh, man, you know, and you know what, like, you know, I know it's super typical, but I'm gonna go with Lord of the Rings. And the reason I'm going to source one of the rings, the first Well, yeah, just, you know, the reason for that is because I've always loved fantasy. But before Lord of the Rings, every fantasy movie was cheesy and terrible. And it just made you feel like a nerd. You're like, man, like, I'm watching this movie, because I'm a nerd. You know, because I used to play Dungeons and Dragons, because I, you know, because I read, and I read these books, but like, I know, deep down, this movie's terrible Lord of the Rings comes out and you're like,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:48
What's an Oscar? wins multiple Oscars?

Nick Palmisciano 1:10:51
This movie is amazing. Right? You know? And, and now it's cool to make fantasy movies. And like, you know, without, without Lord of the Rings, there's no Game of Thrones. Oh, absolutely. Peter, because Peter Jackson had to show everybody how to do it. Right. So

Alex Ferrari 1:11:09
Question now I'm gonna go. I want to go back real quick on on fantasy movies. I think you and I are similar ages are close at least. Do you remember a movie called crawl? Yes. One of the greatest movies ever saw as a child? If I look at it today, it's embarrassing. It's Yeah. Liam Neeson first movie. Yeah, really? Liam Neeson first acting role

Nick Palmisciano 1:11:36
Its unwatchable now. Yeah. Like you watch it only because you grew up with the memory.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:42
I don't want to watch it because I want to keep on I want to hold on to that memory. Because it's kind of like, yeah, I'm gonna go watch Willow, you know? Oh. Yes. So Nick, where can people find you and your companies?

Nick Palmisciano 1:11:58
I'm sure you can. You know, we're all over social media. Facebook, you can look up Ranger up. You can look up Nick Paul Machado. Same thing with Instagram Ranger up or Nick Paul Machado and then you know my my compatriots. You can did the films with you can find on article 15. Matt best Jared Taylor, Vince Vargas. Also our side, Tim Kennedy and jack Mandeville, and then the movie itself. Range 15. And we're literally any single anything you go to like whether you're talking Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, like we're on everything. So, you know, Ranger up Nick Paul Machado and all those other guys.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:42
You're everywhere, man, dude. Man, again, I wanted to say thank you for not only being on the show. Thank you for your service, man. I really, I wholeheartedly. Appreciate it. And, and thank you for sharing your story, your inspirational story and how you got Ranger 15 out man, I hope it inspires some people to get off their ass and actually go make some movie because there is there is a blueprint and you can do it. But it's not gonna happen in a day. It might take five years to do. It might take 10 years. Yeah, but it's absolutely, Nick. Thanks again, brother.

Nick Palmisciano 1:13:14
Yes, sir.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:15
If that doesn't inspire you guys to go out and make a movie. I don't know what will. Honestly I just want to thank Nick so much for being on the show and sharing his story. And inspiration for all of us as filmmakers that it is possible, you can do it, it just gonna take a lot of work, and a lot of grind. And you've got to learn how to love that grind that day to day day in day out work to get your movies out there to make your dreams come true. And Nick and the whole team of range 15 is a perfect example of that. And I really hope you guys find some inspiration in Nick's story. And as you heard in Episode 166, my entire distribution, self distribution plan and how we're using distributed do it. I'll put links to all of that stuff in how to get ahold of re arrange 15 and how to get all the neck and everything in the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 167. And don't forget to head over to free film book calm that's free film book.com to download your free filmmaking or screenwriting audio books, guys. It's awesome. I listened to audio books all the time. And audible is awesome. They have a quick quick, great app. And you can try it out for free man get one free audio book, no strings attached. Head over to free film book calm and as always keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 166: Independent Film Distribution & Marketing Blueprint with This is Meg

Right-click here to download the MP3

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been getting an enormous amount of emails and messages asking me the same question:

What is your distribution and marketing plan for This is Meg?

I hear you IFH Tribe, so I decided to put this podcast together and layout the marketing and distribution blueprint I created to get This is Meg out into the world. You can’t be a Filmtrepreneur without one of those.

In this episode, I break down:

  • Why I didn’t go through a traditional distributor
  • Why I didn’t do a theatrical run through TUGG
  • How I will be self-distributing This is Meg
  • What platforms I’ll be selling on and why
  • What my marketing strategy is

This is Meg has been a giant experiment to see what happens and I wanted to share the ride with you, the IFH Tribe. Thank you for all the support. Take a listen and keep on hustlin’.

Alex Ferrari 1:55
So today guys, we are going to talk about a question I keep getting asked about I keep getting getting emails about it and Facebook messages and tweets about it. How are you going to distribute this as make what is your distribution strategy? And how are you going to break iTunes as you're trying to do and all this kind of stuff? Well, I'm going to talk a little bit about my my decision as to how I was going to distribute, this is why I'm going to distribute it this way and how I'm going to actually do it. And you guys are going to go on the ride with me to see how it all turns out. Now, first and foremost, why did I decide to self distribute as opposed to going through a normal distributor? If you guys have listened at all to this podcast, you know that depending on the kind of movie it is, distributors might make sense, good. There's a lot of good distributors out there gravitas ventures is a really great distributor, a 24. There's multiple good distribution houses out there that can do good stuff for you and are honest and are going to actually give you give you actually pay you some money, which is rare in the distribution game. So certain films make sense for that. This is Meg is not one of those films, it did not make sense for me to go to a traditional distributor because yes, I have some faces. And yes have some amazing, amazing cast that worked on this as Meg. But I lacked the marquee value that distributors are looking for. And that's fine, and it's also a dramedy, so it's not an easy sell, it's also probably not going to travel extremely well, either. So it's pretty much going to be a domestic or English speaking kind of film as far as distribution is concerned. Now a few people also ask me, why didn't I go through tug, or gather or one of these other companies that help help you go through a self distribution? platform theatrically, I said, I feel the same way. Again, this movie didn't call for that. It didn't have the kind of instill instilled market or community that would support something like that. And I didn't also want to go on a year or two year grind to get out there and try to go theatrical with it, it didn't make financial sense for me, or through for the time that I would be spending, trying to market it promoted in different territories and things like that. Also, what it would do is if I did go out through tug, it would suck away some of the money that I would be able to making through customers who are interested in seeing it would probably be interested or audience members would be interested in seeing it would probably be interested in renting it or buying it on on a on a streaming platform or in DVD or something like that. So you'd be kind of like siphoning off some cash by doing so. And it didn't make financial sense for me at this level of film for other films different for documentaries, absolutely different. It's a it's a great way to go but for me in this is Meg didn't make sense to do it. So I decided to go with the stripper. As all you guys know, I'm a big fan of history. I'm big fan of Nix OS who's the CEO who's been on the show before in Episode 128. And I knew of distributed through Jason boo Baker, a buddy of mine, who works there. And also has, you know, runs filmmaking stuff calm and so on. And they, I kind of just made kind of sense to go with them because they allow you to get access to all the digital platforms, you can imagine. Even some cable VOD as well, you could submit to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, all of those platforms at a very affordable price. No, they charge depending on the package you get. But all I do know is like one, I think it's like in between 1000 to $500, to submit to different platforms. And then you could buy a package of three or five or 10 different platforms for X amount of dollars. The great thing about what Nick and the team at distribute does, is that they, they will refund, if you let's say you want to submit to Netflix, and it costs $1,000 to submit to Netflix, you submit to Netflix, and if Netflix doesn't take you they refund everything up to $150 everything besides $150, they keep $150 for just processing and running their company and doing all this stuff. But they refund refund most of everything else back. So there really is 450 bucks, which is in many ways. A lot of film festivals, cost $150 ridiculously enough, or, or a couple of Film Festival submissions, you get a chance to submit to Netflix, which you can't cannot do by yourself. So that's why I decided to go with distributor. So you know what, I feel that I have an audience, I feel that the cast has an audience that we can sell this as Meg to, and it made sense to go through distributor. So the team a distributor, and I've been working feverishly for the last few months, putting everything together getting all of the deliverables distribution, you know, everything I need to submit to iTunes, which by the way, iTunes is one of the most strenuous strenuous QC processes, technical QC processes, there are in the digital platforms. So if you can pass iTunes, you can pretty much pass almost any of the other guys as well. And I've also submitted to Hulu in other places as well. Trust me, iTunes is tough, but very doable. As long as you have certain things in place, you can do it. Also quick tip. And if you guys are listening to this, this can save you hundreds, hundreds of dollars. I have not been paid by this company, nor do they know who I am. But I've used their service. I am a huge fan. And their test was if I can get it through iTunes, and it did the company I use for closed captioning, closed captioning and a big, big issue. If you want to submit to Amazon, you got to have closed captions. You want to submit to iTunes, Netflix, all of them you have to have closed caption is part of your digital deliverables list. It's usually anywhere between five to $8. Depending to close caption a minute to close caption a feature film, it gets really pricey. You can go to a company called rev.com rev.com. I will put it in the show notes. And there you can get your movie closed captioned for $1 a minute. A distributor friend of mine suggested I do it. I looked at like you're using it. He's Yeah, we use it all the time. rev.com It's $1 a minute. I I sent them the specs of iTunes. They gave me gave me back a closed caption file. It went through iTunes, iTunes accepted it. So if iTunes accepted it, it's good for everybody. So rev comm will save you tons go to them again, not been paid, not a sponsor. They don't even know who I am. I just love what they did. And it saved me a ton of cash, getting a closed caption for this as Meg. So now you have a file, you have all your deliverables ready to go. And you choose what platforms you want to go to. So we're submitting to Netflix, we're submitting to Hulu, and Amazon for s VOD. Now there's a difference between s VOD and T VOD. svod is subscription based video on demand. TV to you is transactional video on demand. So when you do a transactional video on demand, which is your iTunes, your Google Play, your Fandango, now your, your Amazon as well as you could do transactional as well, um, Playstation x box, all Roku all of these places. That's transactional video on demand. Now, the one big mistake that so many filmmakers make is that when they put out their movie on these on these platforms, let's say they go through distributor, they put it all they put them out on all the platforms on this at the same time. So what happens is you don't make an impact at any of those platforms. Now, eventually, this is Meg will be on all platforms, and eventually it will be available for svod. But there is going to be a window that it's Gonna be available for tvod only. And that window could last a long time, it will probably last at least six months to a year before you can see it for free on Amazon or something along those lines on amazon prime, or any of these kind of services. But why a lot of people are like Alex, why are you only submitting it to iTunes at first? Well, because I wanted to and this is by Nick. Nick's suggestion is to focus all of the buying power at iTunes, which is by far the largest of all the transactional transactional VOD even larger than, than Amazon, believe it or not for independent film, iTunes, if we can focus all of our audience, and people are interested in this as Meg to iTunes, the more sales and or rentals we get, the higher we get ranked in their ranking system, whether that be hopefully in the top 10, or top 25, of comedy, or drama it to possibly hope God, I mean, it would be amazing to crack the window for the top 10 or top 25 of all of iTunes. So let's just put it this way, a lot of people say oh, a lot of distributors will tell you a lot of people tell you, you know, yeah, you can go through someone like distributor, but they're not gonna help you market it. And it's true, they are not going to help you market the movie, that is not their job, their job is to open the door that is close to you. So you have access to a marketplace, what you do with that marketplace, is completely in total, totally your responsibility, how you market it, how you strategize, to get your film out through these platforms is up to you, it is not distributors job to market your product to market your film, it is your job. So a lot of people will tell you Oh, well, you know, you're not gonna be able to make any money with that, because you're just going to be thrown on their platform is going to be one of many. And that that comment is actually true. But if you're able to market it, push it, push it to your audience, push it to the actors, audiences in the movie, push it, if you're a documentary, push it to the audience that wants to hear about that information, it is your job to do that. So that's what I'm going to do with this is Meg, and I'm focusing all of my buying power on iTunes. So we can crack that five, that top 10, top 25 of either comedy, oh, God forbid, the top, because understand something, if you're thrown into the pool with all the other hundreds of 1000s of movies that are on iTunes, you'll be thrown in the same pool with everybody else. And you don't have the marketing power to move yourself up. So if you're able to kind of game the system, and this is a hack, this is the iTunes hack. And this is what I talked about breaking iTunes, if we can generate enough sales or rentals, they both count the same. Either you buy it for 1520 bucks, or whatever, or you rent it. For 399, it counts as a transaction, it counts towards your total transactions, which helps you get ranked, the more transactions you get, the more you get pushed up the totem pole on iTunes. And that goes for any platform you choose, I could have easily chose Amazon to do the exact same thing. But I wanted to try iTunes first and see what would happen. The distribution of this as mag is, is basically an experiment, this whole project has been an experiment to see what can be done, what can we do? How can we raise money to make the movie? Can we make the movie Can we make a quality product and we get a great cast? Can we distribute the movie and actually make a little bit of money with it. And I wanted to kind of go through this whole process with you so I could show you guys how it is done, and how it can be done. And we'll see if it works or not. So after it runs, maybe 30 days on iTunes, we will open it up to other platforms like Amazon and Google Play. And all the other ones we will try to be submitting it to Dish Network and cable VOD as well. And we are in talks with Netflix and Hulu and see if we can get into any those platforms. And as I do, you guys will know about it. But that is our distribution strategy. On what why and what we're doing with this is Meg now. How am I going to market this thing? How am I going to get it out there? Well, I've spent the last two years building an audience through indie film hustle. And you guys the tribe have been so supportive and so wonderful to me to indie film, hustle. And to this is Meg. I mean, we couldn't have made the movie without you guys. You guys helped finance the movie through crowdfunding. So thank you for that. And now I'm going to hopefully get my audience which is you guys to watch the movie. And I'm also going to be leveraging Jill's audience. Christa Allen's audience Joe Reitmans audience, Deborah Wilson's audience, Carla does Rocky's audience, our entire cast his audience, they're gonna pump it out through all of their channels, and all their social media channels and the audiences. They've been building up over the course of many years. So by leveraging those, we will hopefully get sales and people interested in what we're doing? People, filmmakers are going to be interesting to see what a film that is as low budget as ours is, looks like and how we went through the entire process. And what you're going to be seeing in the coming weeks is clips, I'm going to be using clips of the movie as a promotional content to be pushing out there. So people could see small funny clips from the movie, getting them excited about it, that's a really good technique. A lot of the big studios do that a lot of indies do that. Not as many as I would think, as many as I see as they should. But it really helps because people start getting interested people start seeing it. So if someone sees a really funny clip, I get three, four or 510 1000 views on something like that. Maybe there's a percentage of those will buy it or rent it. And those By the way, keep going on for forever, they just keep going. So they will be out there in the ether on YouTube on Facebook, pushing forever, as long as we just keep going on and there will always be a link to go back to either buy it or rent it. We will also be sending out stills of funny, funny stills from the movie with calls to action, a call to action is you're telling the audience, you're telling your customer what you want them to do, if you don't have a call to action. That is one of the biggest mistakes most filmmakers make. They'll put up a trailer, but they have no link, they put up a funny picture, but they have nowhere to go or what you want them to do. You have to actually tell your audience what you want, you have to ask that ask your audience what you want them to do when they see this funny meme, this funny photo, this funny video or clip or trailer, and you tell them look, here's the movie, you could preorder it now you guys have probably already seen this pumping through Facebook, and through Twitter and Instagram, and all the other social media outlets for indie film hustle. But you know if you notice, the front page of indie film, hustle has a buy it on iTunes button now for this is mag same thing goes for this is mag comm you go to this is mag comm calls to action everywhere. So you can tell people what's happening, what to do, and how to be involved, whichever that whatever that might be, if you want them to sign up for something, you want them to buy it or rent it, you gotta tell them where to go, and so on. That is what we're going to be doing that is the marketing strategy we're doing for this film, we've been planning it for a few months now. And again, because of the size of mag and the kind of movie it is, this is the business strategy I'm doing with this as mag, different movies that I'll be doing in the future will be marketed differently, completely differently. This is not the same way I'm marketed. And you've my shorts, or lipstick and bullets, the compilation of all my shorts, I'll put all links to all that stuff in the show notes. So you guys can take a look at if you haven't seen it yet. But it's marketed differently. So each movie has its own path. This is the path that I've chosen for this as mag, and all of us, including everybody listening here. Well, we'll find out if it works or if it doesn't. And I'm not planning to be super rich off this. I'm not planning to make hundreds of 1000s of dollars though that would be nice. off of this is Meg it's an experiment, an experiment that I did for myself. And an experiment I did for you the tribe I wanted to make a movie that is of quality. That is funny that it took us very little time to put together a little time to edit it and put it in post and get it out there. You know, we premiered at cinequest which was a huge festival for us and we're so grateful for we're going to be also at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival we got accepted to and and we're hoping to get into one or two other festivals this year sometime. So now it is my call to action for everybody listening to the podcast. If we're going to break iTunes, if we're going to try to make a dent in iTunes and make this as make a little movie that came out of nowhere into something that catches the eye of somebody catches the eye of Hollywood catches the can be a story that people can tell of like hey, this is a successful story. Look what Look what Alex at the indie film tribe did together. This is what it's this is what this is the blueprint that we can make. What I need you guys to do is go and preorder iTunes now if you preorder it you get it for 999 it will be 1299 once it gets released August 4, if you go now to this is mag comm forward slash iTunes. It'll take you directly to iTunes and is available in all English speaking territories that iTunes available in like Great Britain, Canada repair the Republic of Ireland, Israel, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, British Virgin Islands, Armenia, Belarus, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, sorry, Australia, your country a lot needs a a rating and it needs a rating of some sort and ours is unrated. Because we do not want to spend the $5,000, the MPAA will charge us to get a rating on this is Meg. So Australia will not be able to purchase it on iTunes, but we'll be able to get it on Amazon or Google Play or the other platforms when it gets released probably 30 days after August for sometime in September. And same thing goes for Canada, unfortunately. So again, guys go preorder it now. This is mag comm forward slash iTunes. If you guys can help us get this as Meg up to a certain amount of sales to get us just a crack the top 10 of even comedy or drama t that would be huge for this as Meg because then it would be finding audiences that have no no idea who I am, who any of our cast is, possibly, and just be interested in watching a good, funny drama. So and then again, I'm going to report back and let you guys know the honest truth of what happened and where we went with this. So I do need your help, guys. So thank you so so so much for the support. And please spread the word. If you're on it. If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you see any of our postings, funny clips, anything like that, please forward it, share it, tell everybody you know about it, it really helped out a lot. And we only have a few weeks left before August 4. So anything you could do to get us on August 4, it's all pre sales count as our first day sales number. So if we can get that number up high, that will hopefully help us crack that top 10 of comedy or drama T. And as always, if you want the show notes, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash 166. Now, I also have this week, on Thursday, we're going to be releasing the another podcast and epic podcast. And I know a lot of you might be thinking, Alex, this whole method that you're talking about, of releasing it through self distribution and all this stuff. But I don't think it's going to work. You know, there are really no case studies to prove. Without a doubt that is going to work for a narrative film. Well, I've got an insane success story coming up on Thursday, I literally just got off interviewing Nick, and Nick from range 15. And I'm tell you a little bit about the story range 15. And you're going to hear the story on Thursday. And if you guys are interested in self distribution, and how to build an audience, how to make money, distributing your films on iTunes, Amazon, and so on. This is the podcast for you. Nick made a movie. His name is Nick. I don't want to embarrass myself by trying to pronounce his last name. But he owns a company called Ranger up. And he made a movie called range 15 range 15 has made to date over seven figures strictly from self distribution on iTunes. And Amazon alone, haven't even gone out to the other platforms strictly on Amazon and iTunes alone. He's made over seven figures, and not just barely over a million. We're probably talking about. He mentioned about three to three $4 million in a course of Well, the first month he made a million take home after after iTunes got there to cut. So it's substantial. And he tells you the story of how he did the entire process. He's an inspiration to me, and how he was able to do it. And I've been chasing them probably for almost a year to try to get him on the show. And I finally wrangled him, his schedule finally opened up to a point where I could sit down with him for an hour and really beat up how he did it. And his experiences through distribution. And just amazing story. These guys are amazing what they did and is a narrative zombie action be flick as he calls it. So it's not a highbrow movie. It is a silly and again his words, kind of silly zombie action movie with some people you recognize in it, William Shatner, Keith David, Sean Aston, and of course, Danny Trejo because Danny Triana is in every movie. But except maybe I couldn't get him for Meg. But in that story, and in that podcast, you will hear how he was able to raise $1.2 million, crowdfunding that campaign from his audience, and he was only asking for 300,000 or 350,000. And they got that within the first 30 hours. So definitely check out Thursday's episode. If you're interested at all in self distribution and marketing of your independent film. I hope you guys learned something. Please don't forget, this is mac.com for slash iTunes. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 133: Sydney Freeland: Working with Netflix & Maintaining Creative Freedom

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SPECIAL SUNDANCE EDITION of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast

I ran into many filmmakers while fighting the blizzard at this year’s Sundance Film Festival but one of the most impressive of the bunch was director Sydney Freeland. Sydney has had a challenging journey to become a director and her story is inspiring, to say the least.

Prior to making her first feature-length film, Sundance darling Drunktown’s Finest, Sydney Freeland previously worked as a production assistant, as a writer, and as a camera intern. Freeland worked in a number of areas, including; National Geographic, Walt Disney, The Food Network and Comedy Central. Freeland garnered her first taste of success with the six-minute short filmHoverboard, utilizing Kickstarter to help fund the short. The film was inspired by her love of Back to the Future Part II.

Drunktown’s Finest is her second venture into filmmaking. The 95-minute long film is a coming-of-age story about the complex issues surrounding identity and the struggles faced by Native American people. The film’s name is inspired by a controversial 20/20 segment on ABC News, which branded the town of Gallup, New Mexico as “Drunk Town, USA“, after the increase of instances of alcoholism on the border of the Navajo Nation.

Freeland wrote, directed Drunktown’s Finest as a means to combat the negative stereotype of her home community. Sydney Freeland, who is herself a transgender woman, is also directing a digital series about queer and trans women called Her Story.

Photo by: Netflix

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival Sydney Freeland is premiering her latest film Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, which was financed completely by Netflix. Two teenage sisters start robbing trains to make ends meet after their single mother’s emotional meltdown in an electronics store lands her in jail. Coming to Netflix on March 17. Here’s the trailer.

We sit down and discuss how it was like to work with Netflix, if the rumors of creative freedom are true and what Sundance has done for her career.

All of these Sundance Series episodes will be co-hosted by Sebastian Twardosz from Circus Road Films and a co-production with Media Circus.

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  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)